PowerPhone's Technology Delivers Cell Phone Photos to 9-1-1 Operators

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PowerPhone, a leader in 9-1-1 training and technology, has a new system for delivering cell phone photos from 9-1-1 callers to public safety call handlers.

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This technology gives call handlers another tool that can help them save lives and improve safety and security in their communities.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced yesterday that the nation’s largest city would be developing a system for accepting cell phone photos from citizens in its 9-1-1 and 3-1-1 call centers. A Connecticut company has already built a system that would do just that for the citizens of New York.

PowerPhone, a leader in 9-1-1 training and technology, unveiled the first system for delivering cell phone photos from 9-1-1 callers right to call handlers in August of 2006 at the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials Annual Conference. The new technology, which is called Incident Linked Multimedia (ILM), is part of PowerPhone’s Total Response® Computer Aided Call Handling™ software.

“Technology is changing the rules when it comes to emergency response,” said Chris Salafia, PowerPhone’s president and CEO. “Citizens are now the eyes and ears for our 9-1-1 operators—and camera phone photos are going to be an important part of improving the level of service

9-1-1 systems offer to the public.“

In a recent study conducted by a leading European mobile communications retailer in conjunction with the London School of Economics, over 50% of respondents said they would use their camera phone to record evidence of a crime and 47% said they would take pictures of a crime in progress.

While some public safety agencies have started accepting cell phone photos to a generic e-mail address, PowerPhone’s ILM system is the first that integrates these photos directly into a 9-1-1 call record.

PowerPhone’s ILM system works like this: a citizen calls from his cell phone to report an emergency or suspicious activity—for example, a suspicious person dumping chemicals in a subway station. The caller dials 9-1-1 to report the sighting and says he can send a picture of the man to help identify him. The call handler sends a text message to the caller’s cell phone requesting the photo. The caller then replies to this message with the photo attached. PowerPhone’s ILM system stores the photo in an incident record for easy reference. The image can be forwarded to responders who are on their way to the scene.

By following this process, the 9-1-1 center ensures that photos are linked with the appropriate records of the citizen’s 9-1-1 call. Even more important, this process discourages citizens from randomly sending photos into the 9-1-1 center—an arrangement that can lead to pranks and other abuses of the system.

“ILM empowers the 9-1-1 call handler while emergency responders are on their way to the scene,” said Salafia. “This technology gives call handlers another tool that can help them save lives and improve safety and security in their communities.”

ILM also supports the transmission of video images from equipped camera phones. In addition to uses for 9-1-1 center, ILM technology can also help non-emergency call centers—such as the 3-1-1 lines that are being installed in cities across the United States. Citizens can send in photos of leaky fire hydrants, dangerous potholes, or other public concerns.

According to InfoTrends, a leading market research firm on digital imaging, over 50% of the 741 million cell phones in use worldwide are camera phones. This number is expected to grow to 87% of phones in use by 2010.

For more information on ILM, visit http://www.powerphone.com.

About PowerPhone

Based in Madison, Connecticut, PowerPhone, Inc. is a leader in 9 1 1 training and technology. Founded in 1984, the company has trained more than 130,000 public safety professionals representing all 50 U.S. states and more than a dozen foreign countries. The maker of Computer Aided Call Handling (CACH) software, PowerPhone offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower public safety professionals to best manage calls for service.

Additional facts about cell phone cameras and emergencies

  • The Gartner Group says worldwide sales of camera phones will reach 300 million in 2006.
  • According to analyst Tony Henning, managing editor of the Future Image Mobile Imaging Report, "Nine out of 10 digital images taken by consumers (this year) will be captured with camera phones."
  • Messaging company Mobile365 says the number of mobile-originated MMS messages it processed in the US increased 40% from the first to the second quarter of this year.
  • Verizon Wireless customers sent 7.4 billion text messages during the fourth quarter of 2005.
  • New York City police say a 15-year-old girl used her cell phone camera to snap a picture of a man who was exposing himself to her on the number seven train last month, reports the Associated Press.
  • CBS2chicago.com reports that a Lemont Township man who tried to lure four teenage girls into his car last month was arrested after the same girls spotted him and took a camera phone shot of his license plate.
  • For the first time, Swiss authorities have made an appeal to the public to submit camera phone photos or videos of the riot that followed a recent soccer match between the Basel and Zurich teams in the hope to identify the culprits. (From Nouvel Obs, France)

Contact: Greg Sheehan

Office: 203.245.8911 ext. 312

Cell: 203.464.2237

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