“The difficulty with wireless phones is they can be any where and we would have no idea where you are or who you are,” he said, adding a majority of calls coming into dispatchers are not the location of the phone, just the location of the cell phone tower.
He said Smart911 “essentially bridges that gap and allows you to build a profile not based up the definitive phone number that we used to have with the location, but now it attaches to the number.”
Butler County subscribes to the service at a cost of $49,500 annually. The cost is based on the number of dispatchers who use the data, according to Franke.
When the county began looking at the Smart911 technology about two years ago they immediately thought of Miami University in Oxford, with students who have cell phones from all over the country.
Franke said the new technology allows dispatchers to understand that a call with a Chicago area code may be coming from a Miami University student in Oxford. That certainly will increase the chance of emergency personnel arriving quicker, he said.
Hamilton County in July launched use of the Smart911 system — three months after 16-year-old Kyle Plush suffocated while trapped in his minivan despite making two 911 calls for help.
“Smart911 could’ve helped save Kyle’s life,” his mother, Jill Plush, said at a news conference when the service was launched, and encouraged people to sign up.
The Smart911 system can also be invaluable for those with medical conditions. Users can choose to add their medical history or disabilities into the system.
The free countywide service allows residents to also provide additional details that 911 dispatchers may need in order to assist them during an emergency. Some of that information may include contact information for family members, specific location in an office building where you work, names and ages of those living in the house, their vehicle description, even any pets living with them.
Franke said safeguard are in place to protect sensitive information, noting dispatchers only have access to the data if that specific number calls 911 and the information is shown only for 45 minutes.
There is no charge to residents for Smart911, and it only includes data they choose to share.
This article contains previous reporting by our news partner WCPO.
HOW TO SIGN UP FOR SMART911
- Create your profile. Enter as much information as you wish. First responders want to know anything about you that could be helpful if you call 911. That could include family members, photos, medical notes, pets, car make and model, and emergency contacts.
- The system is private and secure, and it works with cell phones and landlines.