TCSO unveils new tech allowing 911 callers to stream live video to dispatchers


By John Dobberstein, Editor

The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office unveiled new technology Thursday to help 911 callers get information about crimes to dispatchers more quickly and promote better response from law enforcement.

The system, Prepared Live, enables callers to live stream videos to TCSO’s dispatch center.

TCSO is the first law enforcement agency in the state to implement the technology, which has been under testing for a year.

Prepared Live provides 911 operators and first responders with access to live video, photos, GPS locations and the ability to text with callers by adding live video, multimedia sharing and a chat functionality.


Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado said the technology “gives dispatchers immediate eyes on scene and enables them to communicate with callers in ways that we have never done before. Our dispatchers can use live video to verify and understand the type and severity of an ongoing emergency rather than relying on caller descriptions.”

Regalado said the technology is “extremely valuable” for instances when a caller's witnessing an assault. Once the caller clicks on the text link the sheriff’s office send them, dispatchers can utilize the caller's cell phone camera to see what’s happening in real time.

TCSO is using the technology daily for 911 hangup calls and accidental 911 calls, which have been on the rise due to the design of iPhones and Apple Watches. He estimates there are 15 to 20 of those calls per shift to the dispatch center.

“When we receive these, we follow up by calling back to determine if someone needs help, in addition to calling people back,” Regalado said.

The text callers would receive says, “We received a call from this number. If you need assistance, please dial 911 or respond to this text. If this is not an emergency, please call our non-emergency number (918) 596-5600 or respond to this text. Law enforcement is currently responding to your location.”

“It’s imperative that our citizens know that if you receive this text from us asking you to call or text us back, it really is the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office,” Regalado said. “The quicker we’re able to determine that a call was accidental, the quicker our dispatchers and deputies can clear that call.”

Michael Chime, CEO and a co-founder of Prepared Live, said he started working on the project 4 years ago when he was an undergraduate at Yale. He grew up right outside of a city that had a mass shooting in 2012. “I was 13 or 14 years old, and I saw how that impacted a really small blue-collar town -- one of those communities where everyone knows everyone.”

The first project his team tackled was building an app that schools could use during emergencies allowing cell phones to be used, rather than walkie-talkies or PA systems. He said hundreds of schools across the country launched the service, but most of the data they were collecting in the app wasn’t accessible by 911.

Taking an active role

For many dispatch centers now, Chime said, most calls are from mobile devices, but the systems they use were built for landlines.

“There's 250 million 911 calls every year, and if 80% of them are coming from mobile devices we're talking about hundreds of millions of outcomes every year. Lifesaving data was left on the table and we set out to solve that,” Chime said.

In addition to the dispatch centers being able to take in information from calls, they can instantly share it with first responders, which could improve situational awareness and improve allocation of resources.

And citizens an also “take an active role in their own safety, right?” Chime adds. “It’s going to help communities be a lot safer.”

With the increased threat environment affecting hospitals, schools and other critical infrastructure, Chime sees the technology as coming at the right time. Regalado believes it could help officers respond to active shooters, for example, with better intelligence.

“So now we potentially know what part of the school or business this is happening at. We may have a glimpse or video of the assailant. And we may have an idea of how many people are in the structure.

“It's making us more efficient in our response time, but I think more importantly, it is giving us vital information to allow us to end that situation quicker than we would have in the past.”

The technology has already been useful in some cases, he said, such as large-scale fights and domestic assaults. It could come in handy to help someone who might be lost in the woods. “I don't know that we've actually tapped into what full capability is,” Regalado said, “but we're slowly moving that way.”

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