Software to enhance 911 services

Published 12:50 pm Wednesday, October 2, 2019

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

New software at Chilton County E911 will enhance the department’s ability to pinpoint a caller’s location and decrease the number of questions that have to be asked in some instances.

Chilton County E911 has recently added C-Lite by Carbyne to its technology toolkit. The technology brochure states the plugin, which integrates with existing 911 software, can narrow down a location to within 32 feet of a caller and can “slash the time to dispatch (services) by 65 percent.”

911 Director Dan Wright said usually a person’s location is determined by a computer based on the cell towers the phone is using, but the new software would give a more accurate location.

“It gives us the ability to get a pinpoint location of the caller, and it gives us the ability to receive a live video feed,” Wright said. “We get the call in on traditional 911, then we can send a text link to the caller … It says, ‘This is Chilton County E911. Please click this link to give us access to video.’”

The caller would then be prompted to grant location and video access to 911. Nothing needs to be downloaded on the caller’s device. Using the service does require internet access, but not Wi-Fi.

Video access would allow the dispatcher to see the scene.

“Prior to the installation of this software … if we had a wreck call, which we have a lot of them, it was up to us to pull (information) from the caller — who has an untrained eye, who is in a traumatic situation and more than likely hyped up — and we are trying to pull from them to paint a picture of the scene to see what resources we need to send,” Wright said. “Whereas now, we have the capability of … if someone calls and says there has been a wreck at this location to say, ‘let me send you this link, and you and show me what you are looking at.’”

This will allow dispatch to answer most of the questions they would usually ask just by looking at the video.

“We can know within a five second assessment of a scene through video, all of those questions are answered,” Wright said. “It just makes us more efficient and effective.”

Another example of when the ability to have video at the scene might be helpful includes domestic incidents when a child is the caller, Wright said.

He said the call would just look like the young person is simply texting their friend.

Once an initial call is made, 911 can continue the video even if the caller has to hang up for safety reasons. Wright said when the caller closes their app windows, it would totally break the connection.

In the future, the department plans to have the capability of sending the video footage to first-responders as they are headed to the scene.

Video may also be submitted as evidence in court cases.

The new software will be used on the calls when it would be beneficial, not on every call. Chilton County E911 has a list of guidelines to help employees determine when the software should be used.

At this time, 87 percent of the calls that come into Chilton County E911 are from cellphones. Wright said he expects this number to continue to grow.

The video is one-way, meaning the caller will not see the 911 dispatcher.

Dispatchers at Chilton County E911 received training on the software before they started using it. Wright said the software is easy to use.

The videos will be used for quality assurance and quality improvement purposes for the department.