The Future of 9-1-1 Is Here...
& up to all of us! Our country's 9-1-1 dispatch system is under-staffed and under-funded. The public’s expectation is simple: “I call 9-1-1 and someone will show up, because that’s what they get paid to do!”.
Paid By Whom?!
It has been our observation that no one outside of the industry truly appreciates the costs involved. The vision and resources required to understand and work with ever changing technology while maintaining old phone systems has already proven it takes a lot of money, manpower and specialized equipment to make sure when you need help, someone is there to answer the call.
Still don’t understand? Try this example…
Would you pay $400 for your house phone; why not?!
Doesn’t it do the same thing as your smartphone? Sure it does! You can use it to call people; you can even use it to dial 9-1-1. You can still dial 4-1-1 for information and search for information “on-line” with the help of an information specialist!
You can’t get a $20 pizza for $5 (A.K.A. “There’s no such thing as a free cat”)
Home phones do have their limitations though. While you can dial a number to find out what’s playing at the neighborhood movie theater or check to see what tickets are available for tomorrow’s big game, imagine trying to do all the things you now take for granted on your cellphone; it’s all about convenience. Smartphones are mini computers; with a mere finger-swipe, you can watch movies, read a book, check your email, pay bills, work from anywhere on the planet and even find yourself by using GPS or a self-help website. These are things we could barely dream about even twenty years ago. Why shouldn't 9-1-1 services be the same?! Because that kind of power and convenience comes at a price. There was a time not so long ago when digital watches that just told the time would cost $1000 apiece; All they did was show (they couldn’t even talk!) the date and time, that feature is now part of every cellphone “for free” Just ask Siri®.
The ability to communicate has exploded in the last decade alone. There are over 300 Million cellphones in the U.S. now; over 7 billion in the world and that doesn’t include tablets or desktop computers. That “free feature” is worth trillions of dollars because it along with many others helped to cement the convenience of cellphones as an all around tool in the work-a-day world; smartphones are the Swiss Army Knife of the digital world.
How does this relate to 9-1-1?
The marketplace is driven by what the consumer is willing to pay for an item or service. If you see something you just can’t do without, because it makes you feel good, you’ll buy it right? The reason 9-1-1 services are hard to place a value on are because the only time we need them are usually when it’s too late. Just like a root canal, retirement or life insurance, nobody likes to think about paying for services they need at the worst possible time in their lives.
How do you get people to invest in their future when they don’t want to? By taxing them!
Both figuratively and literally; our government takes money from your income (ergo, income taxes…) and puts it in with everyone else’s money and (is supposed to) use it to help pay for our later years when we’re too old or sick to work anymore. This “social security” net helps to cover the living expenses for those who haven’t been able, or willing, to set aside money for the future. This works so long as there’s enough coming in to cover the costs, but it’s a bare minimum to make sure you can survive.
What if that’s not enough?
It’s not enough. Just like our social security system, the money coming in to pay for 9-1-1 services only covers about 40% of the annual costs; and that’s slowly going away thanks in part to tax loopholes and ever-changing technology. Try taking a 50% pay cut for two weeks and see how you make ends meet. 9-1-1 services have to function on the good graces of the agencies they provide services to year after year. Most responding agencies don’t make enough money to support their own needs, so trying to get funds to operate, let alone develop vision to cover the cost of new technology is a never ending downhill slide. Don’t believe me, just call and ask your nearest 9-1-1 center (PLEASE; call their non-emergency number…not 9-1-1).
If working with 9-1-1 for more than a decade has taught me anything, its humility. Day in and day out I have observed call takers, dispatchers, support staff and responders alike truly do the impossible with nothing but bailing wire and sheer determination. They can be rough around the edges but they are all heart. They will give you the shirts off of their backs; just don’t take the last piece of chocolate from the table (it’s brutal…)
What I came to know was that they need a way to bridge the gap. After a really rough day at work that galvanized my determination, I started building what would become a way to make a difference; and so was born 911TM. The Messaging/CAD/RMS system for the future.
Our primary goal is to serve…
We charge for our service to make sure you get what you need and we can afford to keep the system current as technology grows and changes. But we also pay client 9-1-1 agencies to take the calls and use our system instead of charging them like everyone else. It’s our way of saying thank you and making a difference in our community, our country.
A new way of doing business; absolutely! But as we like to say, It’s About Time.