New Multimedia Technology Enhances First Responder Communications

A picture can be worth more than a thousand words to a person in an emergency situation—it could mean life or death

In an emergency situation, 9-1-1 can be a lifesaver. The ability to contact an emergency center operator, who then can immediately dispatch the right responders for the situation, represents significant advancements in public safety, technology and communications.

But what if you’re in a situation where you’re unable to communicate through a voice call with 9-1-1?  A client company of the UCF Business Incubation Program has developed an innovative technology that not only allows people in emergency situations to send text, but also photos and video directly to the emergency call center.

Enhancing Emergency Communications

Winter Springs-based NexGen Global Technologies has begun deploying two-way texting and other multimedia solutions for emergency communication systems. Known as MIRS (Multimedia Incident Retrieval System), the IP-based media transfer system expands the communication capabilities between emergency call centers, dispatchers, emergency responders and the public.

“This is an ideal 9-1-1 communication platform for those who are speech or hearing impaired, and for situations where the caller must remain silent,” said Michael Romano, NexGen CEO. “In addition, MIRS provides the capability to instantly forward vital video and photos to first responders before they arrive on the scene.”

MIRS opens a fast and secure two-way transfer of text, photos and video between emergency communication centers and mobile phones, across all wireless carrier networks. It does not require extra hardware installation, software, or a phone app

Deployed in the Field

The technology has been tested with a number of public safety organizations, including the UCF Police Department. It successfully piloted in December 2013 in Union County, N.C., and according to the National Emergency Number Association, Union County’s next generation 9-1-1 (NG911) technology has laid a foundation for more widespread adoption of similar systems, which includes automatic-crash-notification from cars equipped to transmit it, sensory alarms, and building monitoring data, to support emergency responders.

How it Works

It all starts when a smartphone caller dials 9-1-1. If there is additional content to transmit, the caller receives a link from the emergency operator via text message. After clicking the link, the caller can upload images or short videos from his/her phones, while still talking with the 9-1-1 operator. MIRS is compatible with all phones and carriers.

As the migration from landline to mobile-only phone users continues, 9-1-1 call centers must keep pace in order to receive seamless communications. MIRS technology is cloud-based, user-friendly and uses fast Web applications. The only thing 9-1-1 communication centers need to implement NexGen’s system is a good Internet connection.

“We’ve been developing and enhancing the technology for the past several years and we’ll continue to do so as we bring MIRS to market,” said Romano. “Productizing a technology is a resource intensive initiative. In this effort, however, we have received significant benefit as a UCF Business Incubation Program client. The business guidance and operational support we receive is sharpening our strategic focus and greatly speeding up our time-to-market.”