UNT Researcher Develops Next Generation 9-1-1 Software to help First Responders

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Read June 16, 2013, Denton Record-Chronicle article.

Read June 10, 2013, Star-Telegram article on the new 9-1-1 software system.

Read June 12 article on GCN website.

A College of Engineering researcher has developed a new 9-1-1 software system using smart phone technology that virtually places 9-1-1 operators at an emergency scene, helping operators to gather the most accurate information possible to better prepare first responders.

Dr. Ram Dantu, professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, developed the system with the support of a National Science Foundation grant. Dantu worked with UNT's Krishna Kavi and Parthasarathy Guturu, and researchers from Texas A&M University and Columbia University on the project.

“First responders need as much accurate information as quickly as possible during an emergency, and we are using technology already available in smart phones to bring 9-1-1 operators closer to emergency scenes than ever before,” Dantu said. The software system offers text-to-speech technology for clear communication, remote control of smart phone cameras so an operator can view an emergency scene while controlling the lighting and zoom of a caller’s camera, breathing and vital sign monitors so an operator can accurately gauge a victim’s status, and a CPR monitor displaying compression depth and rate that will allow an operator to accurately coach a caller on giving CPR.

A caller can place their smart phone on a victim’s torso and the emergency operator will be able to view the victim’s breaths per minute. This kind of information is valuable to emergency medical technicians, and helps emergency operators decide whether to direct a caller to give CPR. “If the caller does need to perform CPR on the victim, they can place or attach their smart phone on top of their hands and then begin. The system will tell the operator how effectively they are performing CPR and give the operator a chance to tell the caller to change the speed or depth of their compressions,” Dantu said.

In case communication is lost with the operator, the phone itself also is equipped to generate CPR feedback using alerts built into the application.

“Some smart phone users may have concerns about privacy and security with the use of this program,” Dantu said. “When a person downloads the application and launches it for the first time, the application is designed to disclose all of its capabilities and ask the user to opt-in to allowing emergency operators access to their phone’s sensory hardware. In a sense, this is the same as granting tech support remote access to a computer for a short period of time.”

Dantu will present the software at the 2013 National Emergency Number Association Conference June 15 – 20 (Saturday – Thursday) in Charlotte, N.C., where emergency operators will use the software and give feedback.

Editor’s note: Dantu will participate in a National Science Foundation live webcast at 1 p.m. on June 11 (Thursday). To access the webcast, visit http://live.science360.gov/, enter the username “webcast” and passcode “call911.” The passcode is case sensitive. Reporters are welcome to participate in the webcast via phone by calling 800-857-9601 using the verbal passcode “call911.”

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