Getting help in an emergency can be as easy as dialing 9-1-1, but sometimes finding you isn’t as easy especially if you’re calling from a cell phone. Some tech companies are trying to change that.
Oakland based Bluelight developed an app allowing its users to call 9-1-1 from a cell phone, and automatically send their location to dispatchers.
“That means anyone who's holding onto a landline for 911 accuracy purposes no longer needs to do that,” said Bluelight founder and CEO Preet Anand.
Anand says, for now, users have to register locations to ensure optimal accuracy. He says if you register your home and dial 9-1-1 through the app, dispatchers will immediately route emergency crews to your home. It can also alert several of your contacts that you’re in trouble.
“[Responders] should know exactly where I am and they should have other information about me. So by the time help gets to me, they're ready to make a difference,” Anand said.
The FCC requires mobile carriers to give dispatchers your location within 50 to 300 meters, if you call 9-1-1. However, the FCC website states sometimes that can't always deliver assistance to the caller quickly.
Santa Clara County 9-1-1 Communications Director Bert Hildebrand is encouraged by tech companies trying to improve 9-1-1 systems.
“There are a lot of technologies out there, we need to look at those and see where they provide benefit. I don't really endorse any over the other, because that's not my role. But I’m always looking to see where technology is going and where it can help 911,” he said.
Anand says the app can share your location with dispatchers if you’re driving or walking too, but the company first needs to partners with cities to make that happen.
“We want to change the way that emergency calls are routed and what information they have for dispatchers to get you the best help,” Anand said
Bluelight won a national award from the Multi-City Innovation Campaign, which was recognized by the White House this week. The company has plans to test its product with several major cities across the country next year.