Smartphone Location Data Pinpoints 911 Caller Just in Time

A Google and RapidSOS partnership enabled a Prince William County dispatcher to pinpoint a 911 caller's location when he couldn't breathe -- with moments to spare.

Because of a partnership between Google and RapidSOS, Prince William County, Virginia, public safety communications were able to located Jeremy Schmeltzer in April when he had an allergic reaction that led to a severe asthma attack leaving him unable to breathe and his speech impaired.

Unable to relay his address to 911, but he was located with moments to spare. The Prince William County Communications Center was an early adopter of the RapidSOS technology, which is now in use in over 3,500 911 centers nationwide. The dispatcher used Android ELS location data, available via the RapidSOS Clearinghouse, a secure source of emergency data that is offered as a free service to every public safety agency nationwide, to pinpoint Schmeltzer's location and dispatch help.

“Our Fire and Rescue System forced Jeremy’s door down based exclusively on the Android ELS location data available from Google and RapidSOS. This was especially notable considering that he was within a row of identical townhouses, which would require door to door searching if it was not for the new technology,” said Eddie Reyes, Director of Public Safety Communications at Prince William County. “Myself and all personnel working on this incident feel certain that if this technology had not been available, this situation would have resulted in a fatality.”

The nation’s 911 system is more than 50-years-old and designed for landline telephones. Dispatch centers often unable to locate cellular callers and access rich data from their mobile phones. The Google and RapidSOS partnership can deliver caller location information to public safety agencies nationwide.

Google’s Android ELS (Emergency Location Service) is a supplemental service that sends enhanced location computed directly from Android phones to emergency services when a 911 call is placed. Android ELS is available on 99% of existing Android phones, and does not require the user to install additional applications.

It’s amazing to think that this technology was simply working behind the scenes when I called 91-,” said Schmeltzer. “I have no words to describe how thankful I am to Jeanette ー the 911 telcommunicator who managed my call, the paramedics who handled my situation with speed and care and Google and RapidSOS for working together on this technology.”

About RapidSOS

Partnering with Internet of Things (IoT) companies and the public safety community, RapidSOS provides a rich data link to public safety via the RapidSOS Clearinghouse – sending life-saving data to aid in emergency response. RapidSOS implements best-in-class security practices including end-to-end encryption for data in the Clearinghouse and an information security management program developed with IBM that has achieved ISO 27001 compliance, a rigorous and globally-recognized cybersecurity certification. The RapidSOS Clearinghouse is a free service to public safety, and is integrated with all major vendors of 911 call-taking, dispatching and mapping software.

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