Rescue.io: A Chatbot Solution for Emergency Situations

Most people rarely prepare for emergencies.

There are many emergency situations, like an active shooter situation, where it isn’t safe to make a phone call. Rescue lets you tap a few buttons and alert your family and friends, without alerting others nearby you.

What is Rescue?

Rescue is 911 for chat and SMS.

Think of it like a silent and pinpointed distress signal, via messaging. During an emergency you can quickly alert your emergency contacts to what is happening and where you are so they can help. There are many emergency situations where it isn’t safe to make a phone call. Rescue lets you tap a few buttons and alert your family and friends, without alerting others nearby you. A silent and pinpointed distress signal, via messaging.

By combining multi-channel messaging with a multi-situational chatbot, Rescue can learn the context of a situation, relay critical information and provide an accurate location for dispatchers and pre-selected emergency contacts.

Learn more about Rescue from our VentureBeat Article here:

Why did we build Rescue?

Having spent time living outside of the United States, our team has been exposed to countries and environments where crime rates are high and emergency response times may vary. During my time in New Delhi, the local joke was that a pizza arrives faster than a police car or ambulance.

Here in the United States, college campuses and large events face the risk of active shooter situations. Given the rise of messaging over the last several years, we felt that it was important to provide a communication platform as an alternative to making a 911 phone call. Our research shows two things:

  1. People are spending less time on the phone and more time in messaging channels.
  2. The number of wireless 911 calls in the United States are expected to double to 92 million annually by next year. Many of these phone calls will be unintentional, inappropriate or misused.

In addition, emergency communication systems today are rudimentary and one-way. These systems are built on outdated IT infrastructure and are in desperate need of funding and new technology. Rescue simplifies complex and disjointed communication systems by providing powerful messaging features while improving location accuracy. By offering multi-channel messaging, we are helping connect people and organizations connect with first responders in addition to 911.

Nightclub Shooting in Orlando

Our team has lost sleep thinking about the victims of tragic situations like Orlando and others.

Personally, I’ve been touched by the story of Mina Justice, the mother of Eddie Justice, a young man who sought refuge in a bathroom stall to hide from the Orlando club shooter. I can’t imagine how powerless Eddie’s mother must have felt that night receiving those text messages without any additional information or context.

Eddie’s behavior of turning to messaging to communicate with a loved one during the last moments of his life is an important indication of where we are headed.

What information could Eddie have shared with his mother and local authorities to save additional lives at the scene?

Why Emergency Services?

A lot of people saw the John Oliver 911 video showing how broken the system is right now. The irony is this problem is totally solvable. This solution is tractable. We can build it, we have the technology. We have the capability to make the world’s first location-reliable 911. Faster, better and more precise than what it is today. John Oliver formed the banner for us to rally under. He showed us how bad the problem was, and we have the backgrounds to do something about it. I recently spoke to a 911 dispatch supervisor who shared the following:

“We do what we can with the technology we have. This comes down to saving a life or not saving a life and shouldn’t be this way.”

While we don’t claim to save lives, but we can certainly improve upon the communications infrastructure in place today. To date we’ve managed over 6,000 conversations and are hopeful to introduce our technology to campuses throughout the United States.

Conclusion

Being able to provide someone’s exact geographic location can be handy, since some 911 centers don’t have the technology to accurately pinpoint where calls from mobile devices are located. This creates challenges in providing assistance quickly and efficiently.

Rescue went live at the end of 2016 and has been open sourced to the global developer community. We’re hopeful to build partnerships with law enforcement, municipalities, campus security teams, and other security or emergency providers. We envision service like Rescue as a one-stop call for assistance to reach the greatest number of people in the shortest amount of time over any messaging channel available.

www.getrescue.io

Square One Labs is a startup studio powering and automating better messaging experiences. We’re building technology to help you bridge the gap between your online and offline life.

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