RapidDeploy adds 911 mapping, analytics products to partnership with AT&T
RapidDeploy and AT&T announced an expansion of their relationship, allowing AT&T to offer 911 centers access to RapidDeploy RadiusPlus Mapping and Eclipse Analytics solutions, as well as continuing to a similar arrangement for RapidDeploy’s Nimbus cloud-aided dispatch platform, according to officials for the companies.
RapidDeploy CEO and co-founder Steve Raucher said the 2018 CAD partnership with AT&T has been key for his company—resulting in notable announced contracts in the states of California, Kansas and Arizona—and expanding the relationship to mapping and analytics should benefit public-safety answering points (PSAPs) in the future.
“We’ve been working extensively with both the AT&T public-safety side of the house and the AT&T FirstNet side of the house, making sure that we’re really covering the end-to-end spectrum of technology that we can provide to not just 911 but positioning ourselves for NG911 and what that will bring in the future,” Raucher said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “All of this work is being done for the common goal of unifying the 911 experience, from that first call landing, to the responder in the field and everything in between.”
This unified approach to 911 is designed to “reduce the time it takes to get a successful response while protecting the first responders with better situational awareness and getting better location accuracy,” Raucher said. “All of these elements come together and deliver us this unified experience that AT&T has the market position, technological knowhow and vision to execute with us.”
Stacy Schwartz, AT&T’s vice president for FirstNet and public safety, said that RapidDeploy already has done “some amazing things” in a relatively short time in the public-safety market with its cloud-based platform. The RapidDeploy relationship is a “critical aspect” of AT&T’s goal to provide first responders with situational awareness quickly and complements the FirstNet public-safety broadband initiative being built by AT&T, she said.
“We’ve spent a lot of time with [Raucher] and the RapidDeploy folks talking about … looking at an entire end-to-end solution,” Schwartz said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “Essentially, if you think about the first responders being dispatched and what information they need to their jobs—to protect themselves and also to keep our communities safe—it’s important … that the ability to use information is in real time and is right there.
“[RapidDeploy’s] ability to provide very rapid, real-time information at the PSAP that actually would, in turn, enable a first responder to do his or her job better—with more data and more intelligence—is just a critical feature that completes the total solution or equation to public safety … We’re really excited about it. We think it really is the future of what public safety needs and what our PSAPs and first responders need to do their job better.”
AT&T is seeing increased interest from public safety in next-generation 911 (NG911), which utilizes a IP-based architecture to support communications beyond the telephony voice calls that most PSAPs can accept today, Schwartz said. Implementing RapidDeploy technology can help 911 centers get introduced to the capabilities and flexibility that can exist with NG911, she said.
“What’s great about the work we’re doing with RapidDeploy is that this is not a hardware company looking at software-based solutions that are faster and more agile; this is a software company that thinks in agile terms,” Schwartz said.
“There are so many different media through which we garner information right now—that’s what next-generation 911 is about. But the more tools that we have to create not just more data but tools that can frame the data, do analysis, provide the right critical information quickly and also give contextual information quickly.”
Traditionally, PSAPs have used technological solutions that are premise-based, meaning the hardware and software needed to receive and process emergency calls is located at the 911 centers. Since its introduction to the U.S. market in 2017, RapidDeploy has been recognized as a leader in cloud-based solutions that quickly have gained traction in the public-safety market, particularly as FirstNet and other carriers have offered prioritized connectivity to first-responder agencies.
Many established 911 vendors recently have announced options to migrate their products to a cloud environment, but Raucher said he believes such cloud-hosted offerings are not as effective for public safety as the cloud-native solutions from RapidDeploy.
“Cloud-hosted is this legacy lift-and-shift model, where you’re going to take something that’s designed to run on-premise or in a data center and try to make it run on the cloud, not taking any of the benefits of cloud and micro services on latency design or high availability,” Raucher said. “What’s happened is that there’s a race for everybody to fill their shop with cloud-based products, because now they realize that the cloud is an accepted method of delivery for public safety.”
Raucher said he is not worried by the trend of more established 911 vendors introducing products in the cloud.
“In an equal marketplace, our product will shine through, so I don’t have a huge concern that everyone else is now offering some kind of version of cloud in their product suite,” Raucher said. “I think the proof of the pudding is in the eating. With the distribution partnership that we have—the strategic relationship with AT&T—being able to access the entire market, with us having the best-in-class software out there, I see the competition as healthy, for a start.
“I think it’s a big market. Lots of people have relationships with their vendor, and more power to the vendor, if they keep their customer on their tech. But we’re open for business, and all we care about is delivering the best experience for our customers.”
For public safety, the biggest drawback to cloud-based solutions is the possibility that connectivity to the cloud could be lost during an emergency situation, particularly when in the case of a natural disaster. Prioritized-access programs for first responders offered by FirstNet and other carriers have helped matters, but edge-cloud technologies—an architecture in which the cloud server is located near or in a 911 center, instead of in a remote data center—eventually could reduce latencies and improve reliability, Schwartz said.
“I think there are so many possibilities—especially in public safety—for edge capabilities, but I think we want to make sure we’re comfortable with the performance and capabilities on a wider level before we would suggest that all public safety go there,” Schwartz said.
“That is definitely one of more promising opportunities, but we will want to make sure that we are comfortable, very careful and deliberate with our 911 customers to make sure that we are where we want to be. But the ability to have the cloud more present and closer to the user will certainly be a huge benefit to our PSAP customers.”