MORRISTOWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Every second counts in an emergency, but getting help could become a challenge as 911 systems in the Tri-State Area begin to show their age.
CBS2’s Meg Baker reported exclusively Tuesday on one New Jersey county’s efforts to bring its emergency response into the 21st century.
It’s 2017, but most 911 call centers cannot locate the caller. Yet, we have car service apps like Uber that can find users through GPS almost instantly.
Now, Morris County is using similar technology to save lives.
“RapidSOS will give us the ability to exactly pinpoint where a caller is making 911 call from,” said Michael Peoples, director of the Morris County Communications Center.
The 911 service was created 50 years ago for a landline system. But today, 80 percent of calls come from cellphones.
A landline can be matched to an address, but cellphones currently ping the location of the nearest cell tower – which can be miles away from the caller.
“You’re basically challenging the caller to give you the best information possible. You’ve got to hope that they’re giving you the proper crossroads,” said 911 operator Matt Behre.
And if you yourself do not know where you are, that can be a problem.
“A number of times, the caller doesn’t know exactly where they are, and that can delay an overall response,” Peoples said.
Michael Martin invented RapidSOS to push more data to emergency call centers.
“If you’re in a certain model of car and you get into an accident that’s severe and the airbags are deployed, not only do we get information about the accident through, but we can even route it based off your precise location,” Martin said.
But that still does not solve a major routing problem that bounces 911 calls to the wrong county and sometimes even the wrong state.
“We’re working on that today. We actually have some prototype technology that does route on your precise location rather than the cell tower,” Martin said.
The Morris County director said efficient routing will not happen until the 911 network is upgraded at the state level.
The RapidSOS system is free for the use of public safety.