New software could transform response to emergency incidents

An emergency notification system that was used in the US to alert public safety responders during the Hudson River airplane rescue could be made available in the UK.

Apr 30, 2014
By Paul Jacques
Picture: PSNI

The Reverse 911 software allows police and other authorities to communicate rapidly and securely with large numbers of people in the event of an emergency incident, such as a terrorist incident, widespread flooding or major disaster.

Also used during the Hurricane Katrina disaster and the wildfires of California, Reverse 911 distributes accurate event-specific intelligence to relevant people in a locality, including community members and multiple agencies. It can deliver voice and or text messages via every possible device, including landline and mobile phones, pagers, hand-held radios, fax and email. It also enables authorities to send out daily notices or reports to communities and an automatic acknowledgement of the message is sent back once it is received.

Eleanor Rice, business development manager for Airbus Defence and Space, which developed the software in the US, says Reverse 911 could be used effectively in the UK to ensure the public are informed in real-time of a disaster and kept up-to-date with relevant information that could have the potential to save lives and keep communities safe.

“The increasingly complex and unpredictable nature of today’s emergency incidents, such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks, means that public safety responders are required to communicate with communities and each other in real-time’,” explained Ms Rice.

“Reverse 911 technology has the potential to transform the way police and other authorities respond to an emergency incident in a way we have not seen before in the UK.”

She showcased the technology at the recent British Association of Public Safety Officials (BAPCO) conference, using a fictitious scenario centred on a terrorist attack that occurs in a remote location – with events rapidly unfolding to challenge the emergency services’ response.

Airbus Defence and Space also demonstrated its SAFEcommand – a powerful integrated software solution for public safety organisations.

It is intended to help public safety organisations and the emergency services deliver on their critical ‘duty of care’ responsibilities through real-time location intelligence for staff and vehicles, integrated operations planning and response, as well as full mobile data and satellite communications.

GIS (geographic information systems) data management enables frontline personnel to access up-to-date and accurate information for operational needs and coordinate the effective deployment of command and control to mobile resources, while automated resource location (asset tracking) gives the control room access to digital mapping for an entire operational area, including location of risk premises, incidents, command and control critical locations and tracking of mobile resources.

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