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Here’s the Tech That Could Save Your Life in an Emergency

Our team arrived in Las Vegas last January as CES newcomers, unsure of exactly what we were getting ourselves into, but excited about the opportunity to be showcased in a space filled with such an overwhelming amount of innovation. With just one quick glance around, we knew that this clearly was the conference to be at as a technology innovator, and we couldn’t wait to get set up.
We formed RapidSOS three years prior, after witnessing firsthand how the 1970s landline-based infrastructure behind 9-1-1 makes it challenging for dispatchers to help to mobile callers. Every day 500,000 Americans call 9-1-1 facing these emergencies. Despite all the ways that technology has transformed our lives, 9-1-1 still relies on callers’ ability to verbally articulate their address and what is occurring. A 2015 report by the FCC estimated that more than 10,000 lives could be saved each year if we could simply precisely locate wireless 9-1-1 callers faster.
Surrounded by an overwhelming amount of technology in just my first few moments at CES, I couldn’t help but reflect on how — in an age where I could simulate walking on Mars, adjust the lighting in my home from my smart phone or remotely monitor my glucose levels — I still could only text 9-1-1 in approximately 10 percent of the United States. The result is that Americans spend $60B annually on third-party call centers (e.g., home security, OnStar, medical alert) to connect to 9-1-1. That’s why we created the Haven App, so that people would be able to reach help with one touch, sending their type of emergency, GPS location and medical/personal information directly to 9-1-1. Users are even able to text 9-1-1, locate and check in with loved ones in real time, and call 9-1-1 on their behalf. Haven also can be connected to devices other than smartphones, such as wearable technology.

Because Haven works with the existing 9-1-1 infrastructure, it is automatically compatible with every dispatch center in the contiguous U.S. without the need for new equipment on behalf of the dispatch centers. Our CTO and cofounder, Nick Horelik, developed a way to create a “virtualized landline” location of the 9-1-1 mobile caller and send the data to the old infrastructure while simultaneously balancing connectivity, ensuring that data is sent successfully even in challenging environments. Horelik has expertise in full-stack software development and experience working on nuclear reactors simulations, so he understands the importance of making sure Haven will always work. That’s why we spent three years developing and testing the technology. After years of hard work, I felt honored that we would be able to share this tech and our vision with the CES community.
Walking into Eureka Park, the energy of all the startups was electric. Sitting at the end of one of the rows was our spot — a 10 x 10 foot chance to tell the world! I couldn’t help but think about the years spent developing the technology, the countless public safety officials who helped make our technology a reality, the late nights, 2,000 miles driven meeting with dispatch centers all over the U.S., and all the people who helped make our vision a reality.
We were inundated with traffic at the booth — literally a nonstop flow of people stopping by to learn more about RapidSOS. The interest didn’t stop at our booth though; we had scheduled meetings and conversations well into the nights.
The whole experience was ultimately transformative for us. We met the leadership team of three Fortune 100 partners; met several companies that would go on to become partners/customers; demonstrated the first ever call to 9-1-1 from an iPad; and left with hundreds of leads, several new integration ideas, tired feet and lost voices. Even though we were physically worn out, we were still brimming with excitement from the energy, enthusiasm and support showered on us at CES.
The months since CES have been a whirlwind for us: we have grown our team (so much so that we are moving into an office space next month that is four times the size of our current space), we have launched Haven and we have managed thousands of emergency calls across the United States. We are also starting to work with major tech companies to bring the same innovation to every emergency call in the U.S., no matter whether you use our app or dial 9-1-1. We can’t wait to see what the coming months and CES 2017 will bring.
We are excited for the opportunity to partner with even more organizations to put Haven into the hands of more and more people across the U.S., and ultimately fulfill our global mission of making our world a safer place.