TEL AVIV( Reuters) – Israelis can now use their smartphones to make live video distress calls to emergency responders, a first-of-its-kind services that are, if successful, could set a new standard for countries around the world.
Video chats, texting and location detection is a possibility humdrum features for today’s smartphone user, but they remain a puzzle to most emergency calling systems, which are outdated and merely take voice calls.
This gap in technology, which developed world are racing to close, leads to slower response times, miscommunications and many wasted resources, often to the harm of people calling for help.
Israel on Wednesday became the first country to launching a nationwide platform in which emergency operators can see live video, chat via text messages and ascertain pinpoint location outdoors and indoors.
The system, downloaded as a phone app, was developed by a high-profile start-up called Reporty, whose chairperson is former prime minister Ehud Barak. If successful, it could attract police, fire and ambulance services from around the world.
“This solution did not exist beforehand, ” told Eli Bean, director of Israel’s Magen David Adom ambulance service. “It will enable us get the information we need real time, and certainly reduce response times and improve the care we provide.”
This could be for a simple emergency, like a sick family member, or a mass casualty incident, he told, referring to a Palestinian attack last week in Tel Aviv in which about a dozen people were stabbed at multiple spots along a boardwalk.
Had they been able to receive videos and, perhaps more importantly, the ability ascertain location of callers, he told, “no doubt we would have handled it differently”.
In the United States, where about 240 million 911 emergency calls are made each year, the location of the closest cell tower may offer a general show of the caller’s location, but that is not always specific enough to guide rescuers.
Reporty’s system promptly presents emergency operators an outside caller’s exact location, told chief executive Amir Elichai.
For bellows stimulated inside a house, he told an algorithm utilizes nearby radio frequencies, like Wifi signals, to determine the caller’s stance, and its crowdsourcing technology attains it more exact as more people sign on.
( Editing by Tom Heneghan)
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