Eleven years ago Michael Chime, CEO of the public safety software company Prepared, experienced something that is far too familiar to America’s K-12 students, his school was locked down because of an active shooter on another campus. The experience left him with a lifetime passion for improving school security.
Years later when he enrolled in Yale University, Chime met two other young men— Neal Soni and Dylan Gleicher—who had also been affected by school shootings, and together they worked to develop an app to help school personnel share photos, video, texts, and other data from their phones during emergencies. They called it Prepared. The Prepared app was a hit from the start, according to Chime. “Hundreds of schools across the country started using it.”
But Chime and his friends soon discovered that the app had one major failing. It allowed the school personnel to share information with each other and with smartphone users but not with the emergency call centers they needed to contact for help. He says, “They would always ask me the same question: ‘How does 911 get this data?’”
What Chime quickly learned about emergency call centers is that much of the legacy equipment and software they use is designed for handling calls from landlines. This is true even though today more than 90% of calls coming into 911 centers are from cell phones. After learning about the disconnect between the call center technology and the technology used by the 911 callers, Chime set out to bridge the gap. Last year he launched Prepared Live.
Prepared Live is a browser-based tool that gives 911 callers the ability to share texts, video, images, and other data from their smartphones with emergency call center personnel. The 911 call-taker sends a text to the person calling for help and that person can use a link in the text to upload information from their phone. The software can be integrated into leading emergency communications software solutions so that call-takers and dispatchers can view both on the same screen or it can run separately.
In addition to Prepared Live, the company just added Prepared OnScene, which allows emergency communicators to share the video, images, and other data with first responders.
Chime believes Prepared Live and Prepared OnScene will make both first responders and the public they serve safer.
“With Prepared OnScene, officers have a better view of what’s occurring well before they arrive at the location. That makes them much better equipped to respond to a situation and it can help them stay safer,” Chime says. “I’ve talked to officers who have told me this improves the odds they will come home to their families.”
Prepared’s emergency communications solutions benefit the public in multiple ways. For example, they reduce the need for follow up on abandoned calls. Chime says it’s not unusual for emergency communicators to send the 911 caller a text and learn everything is OK.
But sometimes they learn that a caller who hung up after dialing 911 is in serious danger. “One time the [911 call-taker] texted the caller ‘Are you OK?’ expecting them to text back that the call was a mistake. The answer they got back was, ‘No. I’m in my closet. There’s a robber in my house. Send the police.”
Prepared’s solutions are now in use in 10% of the nation’s emergency call centers, and Chime says he has heard hundreds of stories of how the software helped responders and 911 callers.
Prepared Live and Prepared OnScene are sold through a software as a service (SaaS) pricing model based on number of users.