Systems send digital telematics information to emergency dispatchers

  • 06-Jan-2014 08:43 EST
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Rave’s system provides standardized data to emergency responders.


As more vehicles employ telematics, there’s a growing interest in using digital data from a range of electronic controls to tell emergency responders about the severity of an accident. Service providers recently teamed up to demonstrate that these data can be transmitted to emergency dispatchers without human intervention.

Rave Mobile Safety, OnStar and the King County, WA's Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) worked together to deliver telematics crash data to the PSAP. That should provide more useful information to dispatchers and eliminate some of the uncertainty that comes when data are transmitted by people.

Current systems rely on human operators who call vehicles after collisions, then locate and contact the nearest emergency dispatch site, often providing only sketchy information. Digital data pulled from a vehicle’s electronic systems can provide uniformity in a common format.

“Our system presents all data in a standard fashion,” said Matthew Serra, Senior Director of Product Management at Rave Mobile Safety. “We worked with PSAP centers to determine which data are most important. Depending on the age of the vehicle, we can provide information like airbag deployment, the number of front-seat occupants, whether the vehicle rolled over, and its resting orientation. The type of equipment that’s sent out can vary depending on whether it’s resting on its wheels or roof.”

Rave’s software also analyzes factors such as the suddenness of speed reduction to calculate the possible severity of injuries. It can also provide other important information such as schematics that show how to disconnect a hybrid’s high-voltage power system.

“This will augment our existing emergency call services by providing faster, more seamless information transfer between the OnStar advisor and the local PSAP,” said Catherine Bishop, Global Emergency and Strategy Outreach Manager at OnStar. “It will further assist first responders by enhancing the profile information presented to them while they are responding, allowing them to access data designed to aid in their response like vehicle schematics and propulsion details.”

The demonstration comes as states and communities are beginning to understand the benefits of receiving digital information. Most 911 systems still employ technology designed before the takeoff of the Internet.

“The technology that supports 911 today dates back to the 1980s,” Serra said. “Most people realize the need to go to an Internet Protcol (IP) technology to open a breadth of data channels, but it’s slow going because it happens at the local level where funds and understanding of the need vary widely.”

A number of PSAPs are already starting to adopt IP-based systems that can utilize formatted digital input. The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and other groups have developed a new system called Next Generation 911 (NG9-1-1), which is seeing some adoption.

“A few states are already operating NG9-1-1 or NG9-1-1-like systems,” said Brian Fontes, CEO of NENA, the trade association for 911 service providers. “It is estimated that most of the United States will have NG9-1-1 in place in the next 5-7 years. However, 9-1-1 is managed at the state and local level, this is largely going to be a state-by-state adoption process,” Fontes said.

OEMs will also have to implement technology that gives the vehicle’s emergency software access to relevant data from airbag controllers and other systems. OEMs will also have to employ technologies that provide data in a way that can be understood by PSAPs.

“PSAPs don’t care whether data come from a Ford or a Chevy,” Serra said. “They want data that’s in a normalized format so they can use it to help responders help accident victims.”

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