Fayette rolls out ‘soft launch’ of new E-911 technology

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Fayette County E-911 Director Buster Brown

The Fayette County E-911 Center has rolled out a soft launch of the new Carbyne911 technology approved in March. County E-911 Director Bernard “Buster” Brown explained the soft launch approach and how it will work prior to the entire system becoming operational in early 2019.

A first in the U.S., the Carbyne911 technology will result in the availability of dispatchers to receive video and texts from the caller while pinpointing the caller’s location down to approximately three meters.

“The soft launch represents a migration to the full technology ecosystem,” Brown said, expecting to have the full scope of the new system operational in early 2019. He likened the soft launch to taking baby steps since Fayette is the first system in the U.S. to use the technology.

For now, the soft launch uses portions of the capabilities of the Carbyne911 system, with Brown emphasizing that the soft launch does not include the smart phone app that will be utilized when the system goes fully functional.

Citing an example of the functionality imbedded in the soft launch, Brown said a motorist who is lost or a person in a vehicle accident calling into the E-911 could be sent a link on their phone. Clicking on the link would connect the caller to the E-911 system, giving the dispatcher access to the phone’s video, text capability and gives the location of the phone.

Brown noted, unlike the popular Facetime app, the Carbyne system provides only one-way video access.

Brown said having the video function open also allows the availability of text messages between the caller and dispatcher. That is important in cases, such as a home break-in or a robbery, where the caller may not be able to speak freely.

Noting yet another aspect of the system, Brown used the example of a caller phoning 911 at the site of a house fire.

“It assists law enforcement and firefighters,” Brown said, explaining that the the caller’s phone pointed at the burning structure, dispatchers can alert first responders to the real-time status of the fire.

Once the full system is operational next year, it will include additional features.

The new system will work in two ways. One is by notifying callers to E-911 that the system can be accessed immediately while on the phone with a dispatcher or by the caller downloading the Carbyne app.

The system features real-time smart phone video using the caller’s phone, exact indoor and outdoor location accuracy including at elevation, call prioritization, shorter call duration, text-to-911 and notification of family or friends if the caller desires.

Essentially, the caller to 911 will have to give permission for information, including the phone’s camera, to be accessed by 911 dispatchers. The caller decides if he wants to use the technology or not, and when the calls ends the caller is off the system, according to Carbyne911.