NEWTON, NJ (Sussex County) – Newton’s 9-1-1 Communications Center is now equipped with an enhancement to its 9-1-1 system which gives emergency responders key lifesaving information about 9-1-1 callers during an emergency and provides highly accurate caller location data using the best available smartphone technology, according to Newton Police Chief Mike Richards.
The newly implemented Smart911 software allows anyone to create a safety profile for their whole household that includes any information they might want 9-1-1 and first responders to have in the event of an emergency, such as allergy information or pre-existing medical conditions. While creating their safety profile, users can also opt-in to receive emergency alerts via phone call, text message, or email. When a 9-1-1 call is placed, the safety profile is automatically displayed to the 9-1-1 dispatcher, allowing the appropriate responders to be sent to the right location with the right information. The system also allows dispatchers to determine a 9-1-1 caller’s location with greater accuracy and to initiate conversations with mobile callers via text message.
“It’s not uncommon to receive 9-1-1 calls where the caller is unable to communicate with the dispatcher,” said Chief Richards. Children, those hiding from an attacker, or those experiencing a medical emergency may not be able to speak clearly when calling 9-1-1. “This software gives us additional tools we can use to ascertain the location and nature of the emergency in cases where the caller is unable to speak.”
Caller location information provided by the Smart911 software is more accurate and reliable than currently used technology, especially indoors. Richards cited the enhanced accuracy of the call location as another advantage the technology gives over traditional 9-1-1 systems. “The precise location data you see when using apps such as Google Maps or Uber is now available to the dispatcher receiving 9-1-1 calls. Smart911 gives us a way to bridge the gap between the traditional technology and what is best available.” New Jersey’s 9-1-1 system currently provides very limited information about landline callers and even less information about cell callers, often only displaying a very broad call location and no information about the subscriber. This enhancement to Newton’s 9-1-1 system provides many of the benefits that would be seen with implementation of Next Generation 9-1-1, a system that has been discussed for many years, but little progress has been made toward in New Jersey.
Schools, medical facilities, apartment complexes, and other facilities in Newton can also create facility profiles to provide emergency responders with information which could be important during an emergency. Floorplans, hazardous material information, landline phone locations, AED location, lists of CPR-trained personnel, and other information can all be listed in a facility profile and used to respond to emergencies more effectively.
There’s also a new feature being tested that allows 9-1-1 callers to stream live video from their smartphone to the dispatcher during an emergency.
“As one of the oldest 9-1-1 centers in Sussex County, we continue to lead the way in the use of lifesaving technology to make our community safer,” said Richards. “Paired with our highly skilled, long experienced and professional Public Safety Telecommunicators, we aim to provide the highest quality of service, continually improve and positively impact public safety.”
The Sparta Police Department is also working to implement the same technology, Richards said.
The Newton Police Department encourages everyone to visit their website at NewtonPolice.org to create their safety profiles and learn about other safety services offered by the department.