With Hurricane Harvey demolishing many homes across the Texas coast and now the widespread flooding that’s extending hundreds of miles inland, it’s a good time to reflect on the capabilities of our emergency management systems. Whatever the natural disaster, the number of people calling into their local 911 operations center is constantly exceeding the amount of live agents by more than a hundred-fold. Imagine being trapped in your house with rising water and your only method of help is to stay on hold for hours upon hours.
There is a solution: Recently, AI has been “listening” to some emergency calls. The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO), which has an excess of 29,000 members, brought Watson into their software. By using Watson Speech-to-Text and Watson Analytics, the system can provide guidance to the 911 operators with what questions to ask to more efficiently gather essential information to access specific emergency call types (trapped on your roof verses trapped on the second floor with food and water). AI helps operators provide rapid and personalized instructions so that callers get the fast and appropriate information they need and depend upon in any emergency.