Oregon 9-1-1 Improved by Technology

In May of 2021, Oregon became the first state in the nation to partner with an emergency response data platform, RapidSOS, to utilize more accurate location information for the purposes of responding to calls. Since then, these location services have already helped emergency responders arrive where they’re needed faster.  

Using RapidSOS, Oregon 9-1-1 centers are able to see much more accurate location data of cell phone callers, where in the past they were forced to rely on imprecise location cues from wireless service providers. Now, instead of only being able to see the cell tower a caller is tapping into, call centers are securely delivered data from smartphone GPS technology.  

This switch has also saved money for the 9-1-1 response system. Previously, call centers had to purchase costly and redundant network and supplemental caller location information from wireless carriers. With the information provided by RapidSOS, these are no longer necessary.  

In addition to location accuracy, the platform provides 9-1-1 dispatchers additional important information from smartphones. For example, someone using the Uber ride-share app can request emergency services through RapidSOS, and the app will send information about the car’s make and model. If an emergency occurs in or near a “smart home” building, information may be shared about Carbon Monoxide detectors or fire alarms being triggered. In all of these ways, this system partners with communities to use information technology to provide faster and more effective emergency response. 

By Ardea C. Eichner