MCP Insights

Pilot Project Offers Insight into Using Social Media Data for Emergency Response

Posted by Glenn Bischoff on Dec 12, 2018 4:44:00 PM

In a recent post, MCP Insights chatted with Dr. Andrea Tapia, associate professor of information sciences and technology at Pennsylvania State University (PSU) in State College, about the impact social media is beginning to have on the 911 community. This post explores a pilot project that concluded in August 2018 at the Charleston County (S.C.) Consolidated 911 Center that explored the use of social media data in emergency management and response. MCP, RapidSOS and RapidDeploy also participated in the pilot project.

Collaborators from PSU’s College of Information Sciences’ 3C Informatics: Crisis, Community and Civic Informatics, led by Dr. Tapia—who is working with MCP for the next year as she takes a sabbatical from her duties at Penn State—explored how access to social media data could impact 911 operations, specifically by improving situational awareness during emergencies.

You can hear from all pilot program participants, including the Director of the Charleston County Consolidated 911 Center, during MCP's panel discussion on social media and 911 on Thursday, December 13, 2018 at 12:00 PM ET. Register here.

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Topics: 911 Anniversary, 911, Operations

[Interview] The Impact Social Media is Having on the Public Safety Community

Posted by Glenn Bischoff on Nov 21, 2018 2:30:00 PM

As people change how they communicate, 911 must change too.

Recently MCP Insights chatted with Dr. Andrea Tapia, associate professor of information sciences and technology at Pennsylvania State University in State College, about the impact social media is beginning to have on the 911 community.

Dr. Tapia is working with Mission Critical Partners for the next year, as she takes a sabbatical from her duties at Penn State, to help public safety agencies leverage the opportunities that social media interactions provide to enhance emergency response.

Insights: Why is social media becoming more important to the emergency response community?

Tapia: Society has changed the way it communicates. Most of society is not using the telephone as it has in the past. This isn’t true of only the younger generations—even older people are changing. My 75-year-old father is texting now rather than making phone calls, mostly because his children and grandchildren insist that he do so. The middle and younger generations are changing because they want to, while the older generations are changing because they must. Most of society—even the reluctant—are changing.

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Topics: Data Integration Program, Data Integration, 911 Anniversary, Operations

Stop Thinking About 'Staffing 911.' Start Thinking About Workforce Optimization.

Posted by Bonnie Maney on Sep 18, 2018 3:30:00 PM

It has never been more challenging to be a PSAP official.

Longer-term considerations include implementing Next Generation 911 (NG911) technology and integrating the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN)—being built under the auspices of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet)—into the 911 center’s operations. These are no small tasks.

The one short-term topic that is on everyone’s mind is staffing. It is not something merely to consider—it is the thing under the bed, the thing that keeps you awake—night after night after night. Right now, the 911 community is dealing with an acute 911 staffing shortage. In many cases PSAPs are struggling to keep up with the volume of emergency calls they receive, Obviously, this is placing lives at greater risk, which is a very big problem.

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Topics: Staffing, Operations

Trends in Computer Aided Dispatch Systems for 911 Centers

Posted by Bob Scott on Aug 30, 2018 2:00:00 PM

In emergency communications, the computer-aided dispatch system, or CAD, functions as the informational hub of the public safety answering point (PSAP). As technology continues to impact everything we do as consumers – from purchasing of goods, to our communications with friends, to navigating us from point A to point B – public safety must modernize its systems to meet communities’ demands for faster and improved emergency response.

Over the years, driven by advancements in consumer technology, CAD systems have undergone their own evolution. For many years, CAD systems were specific to a single agency. Today, CAD systems have evolved into multi-agency, unified platforms that enable greater flexibility and facilitate information sharing, not just between the PSAP and field personnel, but also between departments and neighboring jurisdictions.

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Topics: Operations, Public Safety Technology, Technology Procurement and Integration

How to Protect Your Siren System from Hackers

Posted by Brian Malinich on Aug 13, 2018 9:30:20 AM

Emergency siren systems respond in various ways based on the type of activation tone that is transmitted. The tones correspond to the type of event that has occurred. Sometimes they will sound in a continuous burst for a predetermined length of time, other times they will sound in a series of short bursts, and for the most severe events they might emit prerecorded audio that contains critical instructions, for instance evacuation orders in the event of a wildfire.

In April 2017, someone hacked into the emergency weather siren system operated by the city of Dallas. The sirens are intended to warn citizens of weather events so serious that they should take immediate cover. Most of the time the sirens are used to warn of tornadoes, which are quite common in the region in the spring. On this night, the hacker reportedly unleashed all 156 sirens in the system simultaneously. Some media reports indicated that they blared for about 90 minutes, while others indicated that they sounded more than a dozen times for 90-second intervals. Regardless, the hack spawned quite a bit of panic. It also generated a lot of questions from government officials, the media and citizens.

Last month, sirens went off in Genesee County, Michigan, without any emergency to justify turning them on. Reportedly, this was the third time the sirens were activated in a month without apparent cause, and county public safety officials believe that the system was hacked each time.

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Topics: Operations, Public Safety Technology

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