Smart911 service favors emergency responders


Published: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 3:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 3:26 p.m.

A new, free online service in Alachua County could help save people's lives by providing critical information about them to emergency responders.

Called Smart911, the nationwide service has users create an online Safety Profile that is associated with a home, work or mobile phone, Keith Godwin of Alachua County Fire Rescue said Monday during a press conference.

Users provide information about themselves and their family members, such as addresses, allergies, medical information and hazards in the home. Users can also add family pets to their profile and photos of those on their profile, he said.

When someone calls 911 from the phone associated with the Safety Profile, that person's profile is displayed to the operator.

The information is available to the operator for 45 minutes or until one of the parties hangs up the phone, he said. Users can also text operators once they pick up the phone and activate the Smart911 chat, Godwin said.

To create a Safety Profile, visit the Smart911 website at www.smart911.com. Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell said she found the program easy to use. She created her own profile Monday.

Users can edit information any time and delete their profile whenever they want, she said. Every 30 to 45 days, Smart911 asks users to confirm if their information is correct.

"Sometimes when people dial 911, they're not able to speak because they're excited or scared," she said. "It's difficult to provide essential information in that situation.

"This program is an evolution in the process of 911."

ASO public information officer Art Forgey added that users can add photos of their children, which would help law enforcement identify a child if the child goes missing.

Godwin said users do not have to worry about their privacy being compromised.

"No one has access to that information outside of an emergency," he said. "We do not house the information and we cannot search it."

Smart911 is available in several counties in Florida. Anytime a person with a Safety Profile dials 911 in a Smart 911 supported area across the U.S., that person's profile will be available, Darnell said.

"We want to ask everyone to reach out to those who may not be tech-savvy and show them how to sign up or do it for them," she said. "The primary purpose of the program is of saving lives, saving property and saving animals."

Monivette Cordeiro is a Gainesville Sun staff writer.

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