The nation’s 911 dispatch centers aren’t really equipped for the mobile world.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), around 70 percent of 911 calls today are made via mobile phones. Yet when fielding such calls, dispatchers rely on landline-based systems that sometimes fail to pinpoint a mobile caller’s location quickly — or at all — during time-sensitive emergencies. Experts have estimated that 60 percent of 911 calls come through with inaccurate or no location data.
Now RapidSOS, a startup with MIT roots, is gearing up to release a one-touch 911 app that automatically sends location and preset medical data from a smartphone to dispatch centers, with aims of drastically reducing the time it takes first responders to get to a scene.
In that way, RapidSOS acts as a fast “data pipeline” for 911, says Chief Technology Officer Nick Horelik PhD ’15, who co-founded the company and co-developed the app with Michael Martin of Harvard Business School.
This is important, Horelik adds, as smartphone location data are increasingly becoming extremely precise. “Location services will [soon] get down to inches instead of feet,” Horelik says. “We’re providing the pipeline to get that data to dispatchers.” Read more