During the National Mayday Readiness Initiative (NMRI), a diverse group of more than 20 national organizations have been meeting to develop and address the primary issues arising from the interaction of private Mayday «telematics service providers» (such as OnStar, ATX Technologies, and AAA Response) and the nation’s public emergency response agencies. The NMRI is co-sponsored by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) and the ComCARE Alliance, and is supported by DOT funds and a grant from General Motors/OnStar. NMRI participants, who represent a broad spectrum of public and private groups as well as local, state, and federal government agencies, recommend the creation of a non-proprietary Emergency Provider Access Directory (EPAD) for use by qualified public and private emergency responders and agencies.
The need for EPAD is clear. There is currently no accurate, comprehensive printed or electronic directory of telephone numbers, Internet addresses, street addresses and other relevant contact information for emergency federal, state and local agencies in the U.S. This is a national problem that impairs the ability of these agencies to respond to individual or mass emergencies.
Certainly directories exist, often electronic ones, but their content and access to certain governments and emergency functions, or across jurisdictional boundaries is limited. These limited directories may lack such basic information as a contact telephone number or Internet address, and almost never contain specific electronic contact protocols (who gets what information automatically and when) beyond the walls of a particular agency. As a result, agencies and private entities that have an immediate need to contact one, several or all emergency agencies in an area too often cannot do so.
For instance, when a tornado, hurricane, terrorist threat, or event involving a weapon of mass destruction emerges, there is no way for the President, the Department of Defense, FEMA, state Governor, or other public safety official to quickly alert all appropriate emergency responders and agencies to the emergency. Similarly, a 9-1-1 center in a particular state may not have a simple way to contact another 9-1-1 center on the other side of the state. National private call centers serving the exploding telematics market and wireless telephone operators need an accurate, comprehensive, and electronic database that contains reliable emergency contact information.
Quick response to crisis situations affecting both individuals and communities can be accelerated through the provision of a readily available, easily understood and useable emergency provider access directory (EPAD). To carry out the detailed NMRI recommendations, ComCARE is leading an effort to create a non-proprietary EPAD system of linked electronic emergency contact directories, containing full contact information, that will be made available to all qualified public and private emergency response providers in the nation. Specifically, the EPAD will:
Contain up-to-date telephone and fax numbers, addresses, email, URLs, jurisdictional boundary information, and an information «sheet» for all emergency response and related agencies such as hospitals, law enforcement and transportation agencies, emergency management agencies, telephone carriers, Mayday providers, and the like;
Specify the type of information that is to be automatically provided to qualified parties on a «need to know» basis as authorized by appropriate state or local officials;
List appropriate emergency contact information for private entities which are able to notify the public at large. Currently, most major public warnings are delivered in the form of television or radio broadcasts. For instance, new communications technologies will deliver effective localized emergency information. Wireless carriers’ and pagers’, short message services (SMS), instant message services, automotive telematics services, and Internet services could all be utilized in the future to alert subscribers within a localized area or on a national scale in real time;
Establish a process to collect, update, and connect by modern telecommunications technology all existing emergency contact data;
Maintain all information on secure network servers. The security will be consistent with the best commercial and government practices and take all necessary steps to erect firewalls and protect the database from hackers;
Provide a wide variety of modern telecommunications and commuting applications which will be offered on a competitive basis by public and private entities; and
Be supported by user fees and grants.
The EPAD will make possible a wide variety of modern telecommunications and computing applications. Those will be offered on a full competitive basis by public and private entities – not by EPAD. NMRI concluded that competition in such applications should be strongly encouraged, as distinct from the «address list» itself which would be best developed in a cooperative, non-proprietary basis.
ComCARE has formed three committees to implement the EPAD: Technical, Operations, and Communications & Outreach. To become involved with these committees, or to learn more about the Emergency Provider Access Directory (EPAD), please contact Todd Miyahira ([email protected]) at (202) 429-0574.
The ComCARE Alliance
The ComCARE Alliance and its members are working together to educate the public, business and government about telematics systems and other safety issues. A non-profit coalition, ComCARE consists of over ninety organizations representing physicians and nurses, the wireless industry, auto safety groups, telematics service providers, and public safety groups working together to enhance the nation’s emergency response systems. For more information, email us at [email protected], or contact Todd Miyahira at [email protected] or (202) 429-0574.