All of us watched as thousands of Houstonians were rescued this past week by military vehicles, boats, and helicopters. We soon heard a much more perilous story of evacuees being unable to reach overwhelmed 911 Call Centers prolonging their rescue and proving fatal for others. This was the reality for Casey Dailey, a 38-year-old mother of two who died on the way to the hospital after waiting two days for emergency services after making over a dozen calls and being placed on an air-evac waiting list. During Hurricane Harvey their 911 Center received over 75,000 calls in one weekend, over 841 calls in one hour, and dispatchers worked 20 hour shifts.

For this reason; we set out to develop a chatbot that adds an alternative to the overwhelmed 911 infrastructure in states of emergency for callers and emergency managers and dispatchers. We are deploying the bot via Slack and Node.js to connect with the Watson Conversation API. The conversations are saved to MongoDB and Loopback is being used to call that information into a dashboard for emergency managers and dispatchers.

Some of the challenges we encountered were configuring the Watson Conversation API in an instance when the dispatcher is typically leading the conversation to gather required information. A secondary challenge was attempting to configure the Watson API conversation id with Facebooks' chatbot.

The greatest accomplishment is that we’re developing an application that is timely with Hurricane Irma following Harvey. We’re hoping that the utilization can prevent losses like that of, Casey Dailey, and enable greater effectiveness of, the bravest among us, those men and women in uniform.

We’ve learned that Loopback can be used effectively when attempting to codify multiple systems and new datasets. We also learned the role that AI can play in assisting overflow activities when human capacity is exhausted like that of a 911 Call Center.

9-1-Watson will be used to assist those being affected today and tomorrow by Hurricane Irma as 911 Call Centers struggle to keep pace with those who decided not to evacuate. Upon completion of IBMs' Facebook Integration we will deploy 9-1 Watson via the platform.

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