Podcast: I’d Like a Pizza and One Police Officer, Please

You may have seen this recent story circling the Internet: A Florida woman’s quick thinking likely saved herself and her three children, when she added a secret message to her online order of a large, hand-tossed classic pizza with pepperoni.

Police say Cheryl Treadway had been arguing with her knife-wielding boyfriend, who held her and her children hostage for several hours last week. At one point, Treadway convinced him to let her use her cell phone to order a pepperoni pizza using the Pizza Hut app.

In the comments section, she wrote: “Please help. Get 911 to me” and “911hostage help!”

Pizza Hut hostage

Pizza Hut employees called 911, and within minutes, Highlands County sheriff deputies were at Treadway’s door. She ran to safety with one of her children in her arms. Officers talked to Treadway’s boyfriend, who voluntarily surrendered 20 minutes later. The other two children were unharmed.

We often talk about the new modes of communication entering our lives, and how emergency calls will be placed using any mode possible in an emergency. With text-to-911 being deployed across the U.S., the primary message from public safety is, “Call if you can, text if you can’t.”

Why is that?

Public safety officials remind us that texting does not currently include location information; people need to remember to add that information in their initial texts with police.

Audio adds an important layer of context to communications, as the 911 dispatcher can listen for sounds in the background that can help establish where a person might be, what dangers exist, or other important clues, such as the sound of a person choking.

Video-to-911 promises even more information flowing from the person in need to police. Video could be passed through the proposed FirstNet infrastructure, directly to emergency responders in the field who can assess the situation prior to their arrival—or more importantly—before they take action.

In addition to the emergency call/text/video, contextual information from enterprise networks will also feed the “public safety data beast,” ultimately allowing more intelligent command-and-control decisions to be made on the fly. For example, here is a proof-of-concept from Avaya Labs using HTML5 and WebRTC to deliver an over-the-top, multimedia experience between citizens and public safety without having a smartphone app:

Call it Big Data, call it IoT (the Internet of Things) or IoX (the Internet of Anything), here’s what we know for certain: Hyperconnectivity is here.

The Pizza Hut story proves that people will communicate any way they can in an emergency. That includes voice, text, instant messaging and yes, even apps.

The way we communicate is in a state of constant evolution. New modalities, new layers of transport; the potential is as endless as our imagination. With this evolution will come lots of data. Any one data point might be superfluous, but coupled with other data points becomes something that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Where is the future of command and control? Buried in the data, obscured by thousands of other data points, but still there, ready for the picking. Now that we have the data, we’ll need the applications, and the logic and algorithms to crunch the data and model it into historical assumptions and statistical predictions—much like what we have done with weather patterns.

Now that we have access to new data for public safety, and the mechanisms to keep that data current and relevant, let’s do something cool with it.

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