23rd March 2016: 999 embraces UK smartphone society allowing people to better utilise their smartphones in an emergency.
British APCO (the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials), on behalf of the Government 999 Liaison Committee, has launched the 999 App Certification scheme providing a route for developers to propose Apps that will automatically and directly link to the relevant emergency service via the 999 system in a time of need.
The move by The Department of Culture, Media and Sport which chairs the 999 Liaison Committee, follows reports last year from the IET which called for emergency services to reflect ‘the digital age.’
Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: “The digital age presents us with new opportunities to improve the ways in which emergency telephone calls to the emergency authorities are handled. Together with B-APCO, we’re making sure that mobile Apps aimed at keeping us safe meet with appropriately high performance, reliability, and customer service requirements.”
Geoff Naldrett, COO of B-APCO commented: “With 76% of adults in the UK now owning smartphones*, it is undeniable that smartphone technology is embedded into our daily lives.
“The use of Apps within 999 is a natural progression to support these cultural changes, ever more so following statistics revealing that over a quarter of smartphone users no longer make traditional voice calls in any given week*.”
The first App to be certified by the panel is REALRIDER®, a motorcycle App designed to keep riders safe and connected. Created by innovative SME Realsafe Technologies, REALRIDER® crash alerts send a motorcyclist’s last known GPS location and medical details to the nearest ambulance service, via BT’s 999 emergency service, within minutes of a crash.
The App, which has been in development since 2011, has undergone rigorous testing with BT and the North East Ambulance Service, who has operated a UK wide pilot of REALRIDER® for the last two years.
CEO of Realsafe Technologies Zoe Farrington commented: “We are delighted to be the first and only App in the UK to link our users directly to the nearest Ambulance control room via BT’s 999 service.
“We have worked tirelessly with the team at British APCO, North East Ambulance Service and BT to ensure the process is simple and seamless, and more importantly does not pose a hindrance to any party involved.”
REALRIDER® has recorded a 0.01 per cent false positive crash alert activation across 50,000 usage sessions in the last 12 months.
John Rowland Control Systems and Resilience Specialist at the North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said: “It’s important that we try to find new methods for people to communicate with the emergency services.”
“If new technologies can help us to reach someone in need faster, that can only be a good thing. In order for the public to have confidence in using an App like REALRIDERÒ, it’s important that organisations such as ours, help support the development journey, because without it, innovation like this simply wouldn’t be possible.”
B-APCO has formed a Certification Panel including representatives from the emergency services and BT to asses all Apps submitted for 999 integrations.
Karen Smith, 999 Emergency Authority and Government Relationship Manager at BT commented: “Digital innovation in emergency services will bring huge benefits to society, but we know it’s important to carefully assess the Apps that are able to connect through BT’s 999 Service.”
“This will ensure that reliable information from emergency situations is received by our 999 call centres and automatically transferred to the correct emergency authority, helping save even more lives.”
The incorporation of Apps is complimentary, not a replacement, to the existing 999 service.
*Statistics taken from Deloitte Mobile Consumer 2015 report: The UK Cut