This is one of the sessions that was presented at BlueLightCamp 2014 by Matt Wroughton of West Midlands Fire Service, as well as at the recent Policing Social Citizens in Manchester. At both events the idea was well received by those attending the sessions.

Matt Wroughton
Matt Wroughton presenting 999eye

Over the past few months, a team at West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) has been working on an innovative way of increasing the availability of information about an emergency incident to control room operators and category 1 responders during the incident itself. The team developing the solution are now seeking to connect with organisations who may be interested in being involved with the project in order to gain multiple perspectives on how the solution may be developed to provide maximum benefit to a variety of potential users.

Since the birth of the internet, at the very same time a call is placed and received through the 999 system, a vast array of internet enabled services have been providing a platform of information sharing freely and easily between endless numbers of internet users.

Some examples:

  • Present-day smartphones have the functionality to record and relay images and video, often in real time, and which may later be uploaded onto internet sites or sold to media agencies.
  • Mobile network providers are able to detect an increase in smartphone usage at the location and could potentially have data on numbers of people in the vicinity of an incident.
  • Bystanders using 3G, 4G and GPS services to connect with sites such as Twitter and Facebook are uploading images and video and leaving a digital track of exactly where they are.
  • CCTV and web-cams may also be recording the scene of the incident live, but images are only accessible to limited numbers of individuals, if at all.
  • Live traffic navigation systems are detecting changes and informing subscribers of noteworthy incidents and delays.

However, to date, the potential power of this information has not been meaningfully captured and used to inform more effective emergency response, and this is the challenge WMFS Emergency Response team gave themselves to tackle at the end of 2013.

999EYE is a smartphone solution, enabling 999 callers to stream live footage into control rooms at point of call, highlighting key information about an incident which can then be shared with:

  • 1st responders en route,
  • Tactical level managers
  • Strategic leaders
  • Partner agencies

999EYE live footage will offer instant ‘on-scene eyes’ firstly to the control room operators, who, under time pressure to question 999 callers to ascertain what is wrong, where they are, who they are and who is in danger, must simultaneously select appropriate resources to dispatch to the incident and advise partner agencies accordingly in order to manage the incident effectively.

999EYE live footage can also provide additional information to blue-light responding crews who have been mobilised to the incident to supplement the information initially gathered by the control room operators in receipt of the 999 call.

Upon arrival, often under significant pressure, responding crews must rapidly ascertain and process a considerable amount of critical information in order to:

  • assess and control the risks at the incident site
  • form a tactical plan
  • prioritise and sequence tasks
  • resource the incident
  • manage people
  • problem solve
  • relay messages back to control room operators

Having been able to view the incident live before they arrive at the scene presents obvious advantages.

999EYE is currently still in the development phase with prototyping work underway and to date the concept seems highly achievable. WMFS aim to have a product to pilot with the public in summer 2014 and it is their intention to share this software freely with all category 1 responders nationally

For further information, please visit Matt’s session at British APCO’s Autumn event in Newcastle later this year or, to be added to an information sharing mailing list please contact Matt Wroughton

Email: Matthew.Wroughton@wmfs.net
Twitter: @westmidsfire

999EYE : Smart phones and first response pitch

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