Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today the launch of Smart911 as part of the city’s effort to strengthen the accurate, timely and effective dispatch of emergency resources in crisis situations. Smart911 is a free, voluntary and secure service that allows individuals, families and facilities to provide personal, medical, or situational information when they call 9-1-1 to help first responders better assist in an emergency. Today, Smart911 is now available to all residents and visitors of Chicago, making the city the nation’s largest single user of Smart911.
“Smart911 is part of our effort to leverage every tool to help first responders respond quickly and appropriately to emergency situations – be it a burning home or a mental health crisis,” said Mayor Emanuel. “The information residents provide today can help save a life or more quickly de-escalate a tense situation tomorrow.”
Smart911 allows residents and travelers to create a Safety Profile. When a resident dials 9-1-1, their Safety Profile is automatically displayed to the 9-1-1 call taker, allowing OEMC to dispatch the appropriate responders to the right location with the right information. When registering, residents can include any information they might want 9-1-1 and first responders to have in the event of an emergency such as home location and layout, vehicle details in the event of an accident, emergency contact information, family members who would likely be at that location or pets that may be home. In addition, listing critical health information and pre-existing medical conditions, such as allergies, diabetes or epilepsy, can ensure that first responders can deploy appropriate resources.
“Most people are unaware that their mobile phone cannot always determine their exact location,” said Office of Emergency Management and Communications Executive Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. “A weak cell signal or a dropped call only adds to the difficulty 9-1-1 dispatchers sometimes have trying to locate you. In addition, getting specific information on the location within a building, such as the apartment or floor number, is also important and can save time in a response effort. Information provided in your Safety Profile can potentially alleviate some of these difficulties, making sure you receive help fast.”
Smart911 for Mental and Behavioral Health Emergency Response: Smart911 is also a part of the city’s effort to improve its mental and behavioral health emergency response and fulfills a key recommendation of the Police Accountability Task Force report on police reform. By creating a Safety Profile, residents can include information on behavioral health diagnosis or possible mental health triggers so that first responders can better assess and de-escalate emergency situations. OEMC is on track to identify over 36,000 mental health crisis incidents this year. Smart911 will further help OEMC dispatch appropriate Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) trained first responders to access and address incidents appropriately.
Smart911 for Domestic Disputes: Smart911 is a tool that residents can use in their safety planning for people experiencing domestic violence, intimate partner abuse or stalking. Residents can include images and descriptions of a known abuser or former domestic partner. Residents can also add a notification to first responders of their intentions to leave a partner and their stage of planning. All of this information can be shared with dispatched police officers to give them situational awareness and better able to apprehend an offender quickly.
Text to Smart911: For residents or visitors who may be deaf, hard of hearing or nonverbal, a 9-1-1 operator can initiate a two-way text message when they view the individual’s Safety Profile with a notification that text is preferred. In addition, if the caller is disconnected from the call or has poor cell phone coverage, a 9-1-1 operator can initiate a conversation via text to see if that works best. The text feature is also useful if an offender is in the vicinity or during domestic disputes.
“9-1-1 represents the eyes and ears of first responders and today's Smart911 announcement takes us to the next generation of public safety in Chicago,” said Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. “Emergency dispatch personnel will now have access to vital Information that will help police officers, firefighters and paramedics provide the best quality of service to communities throughout the city.”
Approximately 75% of 9-1-1 calls are made using cellular phones that lack detailed location information. Through Smart911 profiles, residents can link their home, work or other frequented addresses to mobile phones, which can be shared with responders in the field for a more detailed, rapid response to the specified location.
"Every second counts during an emergency. Accurate and concise information will allow us to save time and as we all know, time saves lives" said Chicago Fire Commissioner Richard C. Ford II. "With the availability of Smart911 in Chicago, I encourage everyone to register and provide the pertinent information that will help us help you in the case of an emergency."
OEMC and their partners have engaged residents through community meetings, senior events, neighborhood festivals, back-to-school and safety fairs, pet adoption events and more to provide tutorials and teach residents how to sign up. To date, a total of 2,948 residents have pre-registered for Smart911 in Chicago.
"It is critically important that all emergency responders are able to gain as much information about a caller in crisis as possible, for the safety of the person and emergency responders,” said Alexa James, Executive Director of NAMI Chicago. “In a crisis, sometimes people may be too overwhelmed to share the most critical information. With a Safety Profile, Smart911 will assist in dispatching the most appropriate response. OEMC has made great efforts to ensure better information is gained through ongoing training and now this new platform will further support those efforts. "
Residents are encouraged to create their Safety Profile with Smart911 today at www.smart911.com to have their information immediately available to 9-1-1. Smart911 is private and secure, is only used for emergency responses, and only made available to the 9-1-1 emergency response personnel in the event of an emergency call. All data collected is encrypted at every level and is not searchable by call takers. All information is optional and residents have the ability to choose what details they would like to include.
Preparedness and being informed is key in any emergency. NotifyChicago is the city’s tool to provide residents with text messages, and/or e-mail alerts for various emergency and non-emergency situations in Chicago, including weather-related incidents. OEMC urges residents to also subscribe at www.NotifyChicago.org to receive alerts sent directly to mobile phones or email accounts to stay informed.