Many Belmont residents own smartphones. Smart watches are just around the corner.
And beginning in the next few weeks, Smart 911 will be available to every Belmont resident.
That’s the word from Belmont Police Chief Richard McLaughlin after he presented what was an upgrade to the town’s existing 911 system to the Belmont Board of Selectmen at its Monday, Jan. 5 meeting.
“We want to get as many people as possible onto the system,” said McLaughlin, calling it “an enhancement to community policing.”
Smart911 – currently being used by the Massachusetts State Police, in Watertown, Medford, Chelsea and Stoughton and on the campuses of Boston College and MIT – allows citizens to create a Safety Profile at www.smart911.com for their household that includes any information they wish first responders to have in the event of an emergency.
“It is all voluntary; residents can provide as much or as little information to the system,” said McLaughlin, adding the profile is secured, and password protected. The company – Rave Mobile Safety of Framingham – also verifies the information every six months to keep it up-to-date.
When a citizen makes an emergency call, their Safety Profile is displayed to one of the two Belmont dispatchers located at the Police headquarters on Common Street, allowing them to send the appropriate response teams with the right information for those making the call.
“Right now, we only have the phone number and address. We don’t know what to expect,” said McLaughlin.
Police, fire and EMTs can be aware of a greater amount of information that is not known under the current system: fire crews can arrive at a house fire knowing how many people live in the home and the location of bedrooms including children’s rooms, EMS can be advised of allergies or specific medical conditions and police can have the photo of a missing child in seconds rather than minutes or hours.
McLaughlin said that the system can include all phones used at the location including cell phones, emergency contacts, vehicle identification and even the number of pets.
The chief said an added benefit is the personal information is “portable” which allows it to be used in other communities served by Smart911.
“Let’s say you are in Orlando [Florida] and need to contact 911, [the dispatchers] there will have the callers information because the caller is using a cell phone that is linked to the system,” said McLaughlin.
Outstanding restraining or protection orders can not be placed into the system by residents, said McLaughlin, indicating that local police are informed of those court-issued judgements.
The Smart911 system costs $9,000 annually – $4,500 for each dispatcher – with a three-year contract. The town will begin promoting Smart911 through its website and through social media in the upcoming weeks.
The Selectmen gave their support for the town to join Smart911.
“This is exciting for our community,” said Chair Andy Rojas.