Smart911: The Next Step in Improving Public Safety Dispatching Services

Smart911: The Next Step in Improving Public Safety Dispatching Services

Phil_KiralyBy Village Manager Phil Kiraly

While the depth and breadth of resident services the Village provides remains fairly constant over time, the way we provide these services is ever-evolving.

You may remember that in 2015 the State passed a law requiring all Illinois communities with populations of less than 25,000 to consolidate their emergency telephone systems. In response, following an extensive evaluation of the limited options available to us, the Village consolidated emergency dispatch services with the Village of Glenview in June 2017 (along with Winnetka, Northfield and Kenilworth). While our Public Safety services did not change, the new State legislation and resulting consolidation marked a major evolution in dispatching services for the Village. It has been a transition, but these past two years in this new environment have been successful.

And now, we are working through another evolution for Public Safety dispatching. The dramatic increase in the use of cell phones has changed how we communicate, and has resulted in landlines becoming more and more of a bygone practice. In fact, the Center for Disease Control tracks what they call “Wireless Substitution” as part of their National Health Interview Survey, and have found that 55% of adults and 65% of children only have cell phones. This issue is problematic for emergency dispatch personnel who used to be able to rely on landlines being attributed to a specific address to help identify individuals in need of assistance. Cell phones are a different story.

Fortunately, new technology has now emerged to help dispatchers connect cell phones to the caller’s location, among other details about an individual. Recognizing the need for such capabilities, I am proud to report that the Village is joining a local effort to encourage residents to register for Smart911. Smart911 has two main functions: first, it allows residents to create a Smart911 Safety Profile which provides valuable information to 911 dispatchers and first responders during emergencies, and second, it is replacing Glencoe CONNECT as the Village’s mass notification system.

Through Smart911, residents can opt-in to create a free Smart911 Safety Profile, which links home and work addresses to cell phone numbers, thereby aiding in more rapid responses during emergencies. Smart911 Safety Profiles can also include information on others living in a household, medications they are taking, medical conditions and allergies, pets in the home, vehicle descriptions, property details and utility information as well as emergency contacts. When anyone in the household dials 911 from a phone associated with a Safety Profile, their information is immediately displayed to the emergency dispatcher. Residents have the option to provide as much or as little information as they wish and all information will be kept secure and confidential. In fact, the information can only be viewed by emergency dispatch personnel when 911 is being called from a registered number.

The Village also now has access to a secondary system which uses your Smart911 Safety Profile contact information to send you local alerts and service updates. In your Safety Profile, you can choose to receive the notifications via phone call, text, e-mail or through the mobile app. When using the app, the system provides you real-time information based on your location. In addition to Glencoe-specific alerts, the system allows you to opt-in to notifications from other local public safety agencies served by the Glenview Public Safety Dispatch Center, and you’ll also receive severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service based on your location.

I strongly encourage all residents to register their household for this service. Please note that accounts and information provided by residents via Glencoe CONNECT, the Village’s mass notification system, will not be automatically transferred to Smart911.

To create your profile, go to www.smart911.com or download the Smart911 App on the Apple Store or Google Play. Questions regarding the service or how to register may be directed to the Village Manager’s Office at (847) 835-4114.