Firm picked to provide California's NG911 emergency alerts

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The public-safety tech firm Rave Mobile Safety announced Monday that it’s been selected as California’s provider for emergency mass notifications amid a statewide project to upgrade its 911 system.

Rave’s cloud-based platform is now available to hundreds of public-safety agencies across the state as they transition to an IP-based system, called next-generation 911. Todd Piett, Rave’s chief executive officer, told StateScoop that the company’s alerting system will integrate with the new platforms being implemented by the state, aimed at improving the accuracy and speed with which government can respond to emergencies.

“There’s a huge project to modernize the whole 911 call-taking infrastructure, but a key part of what 911 does is communicate with the population and the citizens they protect,” Piett said. “So the alert and warning system ties into that from both the dispatcher’s perspective, so when they’re in their mapping tools they can access our alert and warning tool to send messages out to the community based on the calls and the situation they’re handling.”

Rave was selected by California’s primary NG911 vendor, the French multinational firm Atos, which won a five-year, $198 million contract from the state in 2019. California is Rave’s ninth statewide contract, as states across the country install new 911 infrastructure that can better locate callers, forward calls between jurisdictions and share data, like text, photos and video.

According to Atos’s 2019 announcement, California is aiming first to enable text-to-911, which uses SMS, the standard texting service used by most cell phones today, along with real-time text, or RTT, which allows users to see what others are texting without pressing a “send” button. The state will be capable of exchanging photo and video “at a later date,” the company said in 2019.

Piett said Rave’s California contract, which is valued at just under $5 million annually, doesn’t require any implementation because the company’s service is cloud-based — agencies upgrading their systems need only sign up via the state’s contract. He said Rave’s service allows agencies to subscribe only to the alerts they’re interested in, in the locations they want — signing up for emergency alerts in one county and more general alerts in another, for example.

Piett said Rave’s platform is also conducive to “mutual aid support.”

“In California, emergency management officials are very good about supporting one another and setting up processes where if one city is underwater with work or down for some reason that they will call in support from a neighboring agency,” Piett said. “The way we handle the permissions model, it enables the sharing of access rights but allowing them to not screw anything up.”

The service handles a wide range of alerts, including natural disaster alerts for earthquakes, avalanches, wildfires and tsunamis, along with human-created problems, like child abductions and active shooters.

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California, Next Generation 911, NG911, Rave Mobile Safety
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