Sherburne County rolls out video chat, text messages for clearer 911 experience
New technology in Sherburne County is changing the way dispatchers answer 911 calls.
Sherburne County teamed up with Prepared Live to access technology that allows dispatchers to tap into a caller’s cellphone camera with their permission.
“I think it’s cool,” said Laura Anderson, a Sherburne County dispatcher. “I think it’s mostly well received if they’re reporting something where a video or a picture could be beneficial to us.”
Dispatch has been using the program for about a month.
When a person dials 911, the dispatcher can send them a link. The caller can click the link that allows the operator to see live video via their camera.
There is also a blurring effect on the video for privacy reasons.
“So somebody calls us and says, you know, their house is on fire. Maybe they can send us a video so we can see that fire and see what’s around there,” Anderson said.
In addition to live video chat, the system allows the user to send dispatchers photos and recorded video during the call.
“We use it for finding animals. We use it for missing persons by getting photos sent to us, and it’s worked well,” Anderson said.
When people call 911 and hang up, the new system makes it easier to field calls.
Anderson said people call and hang up hundreds of times per week and 90% of them are misdials.
With the new software, dispatchers can send a text to confirm the misdial rather than calling back with an unknown number. If there is an emergency, people can text back with their concerns.
The technology gives operators a clearer picture of the problem so there’s a better chance they can help solve it.
“Saving lives, helping people and getting help faster,” Anderson said.