Modernizing 911 for the Digital Age

Modernizing 911 for the Digital Age

For as advanced as technology is today, it’s amazing some of the areas where we lag behind. For instance, one of our most basic public safety installations – 911 systems – can do little more than accept phone calls. Yes, caller ID, GPS, and recording capabilities have improved the system over the years, but, to this day, 911 systems can still only accept phone calls. That means text messages and multi-media messages, including photos and videos, cannot be received by 911 operators.

Luckily, Darrin J. Reilly, COO of Cassidian Communications, is changing that. Cassidian Communications makes software that 911 attendants use to identify callers’ locations and dispatch responders. And, now, thanks to Reilly’s innovation, Cassidian is launching an effort to modernize today’s analog 911 systems with new software that helps 911 operators manage other kinds of incoming data.

According to a recent Businessweek article, the effort is already under way. Just last month, officials in Houston implemented a program so that the hearing-impaired can send text messages to 911, and there’s a trial program in the works in Los Angeles that allows dispatchers to receive photos sent via MMS.

The article explains that Cassidian has made this possible through “screens used by operators [that] can display text and video alongside callers’ numbers and locations, and the information is archived for investigators in addition to emergency 911 calls.”

This has amazing potential for even greater future innovation. Reilly mentions ideas of giving 911 systems and operators access to building floor plans or live security camera feeds, and even being able to balance incoming requests across various call centers when demand outstrips capacity at certain locations.

Endless situations are imaginable where this level of technology could be used to save lives – whether trying to be discrete in a hostage situation or home invasion, or providing image evidence to a crime, Reilly’s work through Cassidian Communications is a great use of technological innovation and is truly bringing 911 systems into the digital age.


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