Using Big Data to Improve Emergency Response Times

July 15, 2019

Using Big Data to Improve Emergency Response Times

Ten thousand lives could be saved each year if emergency crews were able to be on scene one minute earlier. How can data make a difference? Integrating massive amounts of data quickly can reduce the amount of time to get information.  Google is an excellent example of how large integrated data sets can be leveraged to get results in seconds.

What if increased access to information led to improved response times for police, fire, and rescue?  Over 240 million 911 calls are made each year.  They are routed through nearly 8,900 different call centers.  Because many of the emergency call centers are local, silos of information are created and many of the systems are old and do not communicate well.  For example, the dispatch center may not have access to driving directions, traffic details, or the location of other emergency-service vehicles in the area. 

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, one small township outside Columbus, Ohio is testing a new data integration system.  The fire chief noted he could get an Uber faster than an ambulance could be dispatched to someone in need of assistance.  By integrating the data from different local departments, they have seen a reduction of up to 45 seconds in response time.  Crucial data related to the emergency is included in the dispatch and appropriately routed across the varying emergency services.

The Titanic is a great example of how seconds count.  If they started to turn away from the iceberg just 20 seconds earlier, the ship would not have made contact.  When it’s said, “Seconds count,” they really can be the difference between life and death.  I, for one, hope that our first responders have access to the most modern technologies to ensure the quickest and most effective response.