Inspiration

As reported by the FCC, depending on municipality some 15-90% of cellular 911 calls go without a precise, actionable reported location - one can only imagine the casualties that have resulted from such a massive pitfall. Despite the push for phase 2 and beyond E911 services, they are expensive, difficult to implement, and require the modernization of both existing smartphone hardware and infrastructure. There must be a better way.

EmergiCare solves this issue by presenting a low-cost, reliable, and innovative solution that can quite literally be implemented in the majority of smartphones today. Upon the initialization of emergency calls, automated services buried within the system begin to automatically send updating GPS coordinates to the operators on the other side. Notably, we offer the following advantages:

  • Compatibility: It took all of 36 hours for us to make our app compatible with all smartphones Android 2.3 and above! This essentially covers all android smartphones in existence, and an iOS solution would be a simple step from there.

  • Reliability: Our app relies exclusively on technology available during a 911 call - no data or internet connection of any kind is required. If you call, you can almost certainly text.

  • Accuracy: Even the latest cutting-edge E911 solutions only support periodic GPS polling from the client device. Making use of the Google Play Location Services, we combine both GPS, Network, and other data to provide the fastest and most accurate data. Furthermore, our app intelligently sends data when a change in location or accuracy is detected.

  • Ease of Use: Unlike many other past solutions, our app requires no new user interaction of any kind - call 911 like normal and the app does its thing in the background.

  • Interoperability: Smartphone manufacturers or carriers can simply drop it in as a preloaded app. And, boom. 911 services can access this data with a simple system integration.

What it does

Sends optimized GPS and network location by text to a specified number and simulates a routing of emergency vehicles using the Waterloo bus system to the location of a citizen in trouble.

Challenges we ran into

It was an interesting journey using undocumented Android APIs to listen for outgoing phone calls. Took a good 2/3 of our time! Furthermore, pulling live data from GRT Open data sources to simulate emergency provider locations was overly complex due to the binary stream format in which the data was provided.

What we learned

There is lots of space for innovation in the public sector that can greatly improve the lives of many people.

What's next for EmergiCare

Given that we are upset by the current state of 911 service funding and availability, we might just make this into a real thing. Who knows?

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