If you’ve ever been trapped in a precarious situation – on a empty, dark street corner – in a hallway – a parking garage – or even at home – you know the feeling. Your heart is racing, your hands are shaking, you are gripped with fear and feeling helpless.
But if you have your smartphone with you – or are wearing your smart watch – you are less alone when you have the 911HelpSMS app. This brilliant service, created as one of several related mobile applications by Minh Tran and his team at Fix 311 based in the Washington, DC area, helps 911 service providers “find you” when you set your presence and simply “click” once to send a message to the closest 911 emergency center – a message that includes your location and allows you to message if you are able.
The app also helps users immediately find the nearest hospital, police station, fire station, towing service, auto shop, and hotel, and by setting up your personal policy, will auto text multiple family members your location when a 911 call is initiated.
With the iPhone, the Pebble Watch makes initiating a call simple and discrete:
The solution also includes the ability to “geotag” super specific locations, for example a classroom in a university building, and register that location with the 911 contact center so responders don’t have to guess the exact location when they arrive.
Minh Tran is no stranger to innovation and creativity – in 2010 he created Fix311 initially as a “Pothole Alert App” in 2010 after the famous DC Snowmageddon , which created excessive potholes in the DC area. He created the app after he lost a tire and did not know which municipality to report that pothole to.
Since then, he and his team have been providing mobile applications to local government agencies, with 911HelpSMS one of the latest in the portfolio.
Texting 911 is not available in all cities, but is being added continually, and wit the 911HelpSMS app, there is no need to find and type in the address – location is added automatically.
The app is free in the “lite” version (for an individual). The family and friends version is inexpensive (enabling parents to keep track of their children for example) and we’re imagining new versions which can connect many more people and systems.
For those interested in finding out if 911 SMS is available in your are in the US, you can learn more on the FCC’s “Text 911″ FAQ page – I encourage you to contact your local governments and service providers to coordinate offering this service if it does not already exist.