Adapting the 999 service for Smartphone use

According to a report released by the Institute of Engineering and Technology, fundamental changes should be made to the UK’s 999 service to allow people to utilise Smartphones in an emergency. Professor Will Stewart said there was a ‘critical’ need to update the current service by possibly allowing apps to send alerts to the emergency services.

The report outlined the fact that the emergency services need to reflect the ‘digital age’ with more and more people using apps and social media to communicate rather making a voice call. Professor Stewart added: “Given that young people are statistically more likely to be victims of crime or accidents, it is a concern that making a voice call to contact the emergency services is not something that would feel natural to them.” He went on to say, “A girl alone in a minicab who becomes worried about her personal safety might feel unable to make a call on her mobile phone – but could send a text or alert someone over social media. In the case of certain crimes, such as abduction or a break-in, a silent text or app-based alarm system would be more appropriate and instinctive than the current voice-based one for everybody – irrespective of their age.”

It was also identified by Professor Stewart that Smartphones now have the technology and capabilities to provide the emergency services with a variety of information about their owners, such as tracking and location, much like today’s personal safety devices. Smartphone cameras could also be used to film a scenario where a voice call would be inappropriate. The operator could then make a much more educated judgement of what help is needed if they can physically see what’s going on, along with an exact location.

It was often concluded within the report that the emergency services need to adapt to today’s digital changes. This would ensure the correct services are summoned by controllers and that the caller is raising the alarm in a way that they are comfortable and familiar with; similarly to Peoplesafe’s personal safety solution, whereby emergency assistance is acquired via your Smartphone through the touch of a button. The innovative software application transforms your mobile phone in to a fully functional personal safety device. Read more here on how the Peoplesafe smartphone app provides 24 hour assistance to lone workers or other at risk individuals.