APIs to Stream Car Crash Data to 911 Systems in Real-Time

Michael Vizard, November 7th, 2013

Even in the age where services such as OnStar from General Motors can be used to call for help in the event of an automobile accident, seconds still matter when it comes to major trauma injuries. As part of an effort to save more lives by relaying critical information faster, Rave Mobile Safety and public safety officials from King County, Washington, in cooperation with automotive providers of telematics data such as OnStar, demonstrated how APIs are being used to stream information in real time to the call centers manned by emergency services personnel.

According to Todd Piett, chief product officer for Rave Mobile Safety, the goal is to be able to provide information such as the number of passengers in the vehicle to the intensity of the crash in real time. That information is crucial when it comes to determining how many ambulances to dispatch, the potential severity of the injuries and even the type of equipment that may be needed from the fire department.

In addition to being able to save lives by providing more granular information about the nature of the accident, Piet notes this kind of information allows municipalities to make optimal use of limited public safety resources. A fire truck that is not needed at the scene of a minor accident is available to respond to other calls, while the severity of the injuries may dictate the sending of additional ambulances to make sure those that are most critically injured get to the hospital first.

The service developed by Rave Mobile Safety takes data stored in the emerging Vehicle Emergency Data Set (VEDS) format and converts it into information that operators staffing 911 emergency call centers can readily understand. That telematics data, says Piett, not only reduces the time it takes to collect accident information that first responders to the scene will need; it also reduces the chances that erroneous information will actually be entered into the system.

While Piett says none of that information will be shared with anyone not involved in responding to the emergency at hand; that data in aggregate should also provide a rich source of information for analytics applications that could, for example, be used to identify areas where multiple accidents have occurred over the years because of unsafe driving conditions.

APIs may be the emerging engine of a new economy, but every now and again it’s nice to know they can also be used to save lives.

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