911 and IoT: A Marriage That Saves Lives
Picture this: A young girl, walking down a dark alley, sees a figure following her from behind. Nervous, she clutches her handbag closer to her body and feels around for the pepper spray that she keeps in there. Unable to find it, her pace quickens until she is eventually running for her life. The dark figure runs after her, like a lion chasing its prey. Fumbling for her phone to call 911, she drops it and refuses to go back for it. Reaching the end of the alley, she feels cornered, trapped, and unsure of what to do now. She is frightened, at the man’s mercy, and helpless.
Without a phone, any way to call for help except to scream, the girl could become nothing more than another crime statistic in a file that no one reads. However, by rapidly pressing a button on her watch, she hears the concerned voice of a Call Taker:
“911, what is your emergency?”
“Yes,” the girl says frightened “A man is chasing me, and I think he wants to hurt me, I’m at…”
But the Call Taker cuts her off.
“I can see where you are.” the Call Taker says reassuringly. “You’re in the alley between 5th and Main. I’ve already dispatched a unit to your location. They will be there in less than a minute. I’m going to be here with you the whole time.”
At this point, the dark figure has to make a choice: hurt the girl or save himself. More often than not, they will choose self-preservation over whatever dastardly deeds they have planned.
The story is one that will become increasingly familiar as society’s investment in IoT (Internet of Things) bears fruit. IoT, devices such as watches, cars, smoke alarms, coffee pots, televisions, and jewelry that connect to the Internet, is a booming sector for technology companies. Google, Apple, Samsung, and others are all vying for a place on your wrist, ears, fingers, and other bodyparts as well as everywhere in your home, work, and commute. While one of the most significant benefits of IoT devices is the fact that they supply us with so much data, from how many steps we take to our water intake that can help us lead a healthier lifestyle, they also allow technology companies to integrate into 911 and emergency services.
Imagine this: a connected smoke alarm registers a heat spike of 50 degrees and excess smoke. From there, it can assume that the house is on fire. Not only will it sound its alarm to wake the household but also provide 911 with the address, number of family members, and possibly even open up video streams from security cameras in and around the house.
The Internet of Things offers us a chance to connect with 911 in different ways than ever before. No longer must we be tied to a phone but instead we are free to live our lives, and there will always be some way, be it clothing or cars, to help us reach first responders.