Tuesday, December 29, 2015

PulsePoint milestone met

When we implemented PulsePoint, the remarkable application that delivers alerts to smartphones when a need for CPR exists in a public place nearby, I had hoped to reach 5,000 users within the first year. Last night, we passed the 5,000 mark--on the 82nd day following the public launch of PulsePoint in Lincoln on October 8, 2015.

While 5,000 seems like a mighty good number to me, it really was a goal plucked from the air. The PulsePoint foundation had suggested that a reasonable goal is to reach 1% of the population in year one. When we blew by that in the first week, we just set our sights on 5,000. I think several good things have resulted from PulsePoint in Lincoln.

  • 26 CPR alerts have been sent to 128 smartphones. Although we do not yet have a documented case where a PulsePoint alert resulted in bystander CPR before the arrival of LF&R, we know that in at least a few cases PulsePoint-equipped citizens responded and tried to assist. This case at a local motel certainly demonstrates the potential, and a PulsePoint-enabled save is simply a matter of time.
  • About 1,400 citizens have signed up for alerts pertaining to injury vehicle crashes and structure fires. These people are receiving notifications that allow them to avoid the traffic snarls that accompany such events, in which multiple LPD and LF&R vehicles are converging on the scene of an emergency. Anecdotally, this appears to be one of the most useful aspects of PulsePoint in daily use.
  • The news media has widely adopted PulsePoint. Reporters are getting story leads quickly, are able to notify their audience of emergencies, and are producing more stories than ever about the work of LF&R. It is common to see media outlets using screen shots from PulsePoint in tweets and on websites. One reporter told me that PulsePoint had significantly changed the way their newsroom works.
  • Lincoln Fire & Rescue personnel are occasionally getting a jump on dispatches. Most firefighters have loaded PulsePoint on their personal smartphones. Since the PulsePoint alert often hits the phone even before the dispatcher has had the opportunity to put the call out over the radio, crews sometimes get a few seconds head start. I witnessed this personally one day when Engine 3's crew was dashing for the rig well in advance of the radio dispatch. Managers like the chief, myself, assistant chief, and battalion chiefs are also benefitting from rapid notification of emergent events.
  • The number of AEDs registered in Lincoln has increased three-fold, as many PulsePoint users have either adopted the companion app, PulsePoint AED, or have just noticed that the AED in their workplace has never been registered with the local emergency service, as required. PulsePoint displays the location of the nearest AED when a CPR alert is sent.
  • Citizens have a much better concept of the work performed by their 911 center personnel and firefighters. PulsePoint has exposed the volume and variety of incidents to a good swath of the public. People mention this to me regularly. In answering the question "I wonder where those sirens are going?," we are not just satisfying curiosity. we are building public understanding and support.
  • PulsePoint has increased public awareness of the importance of bystander CPR in the chain of survival for sudden cardiac arrest. Deploying the app has caused a buzz in the community, and even without a smartphone in sight, will increase the likelihood that good Samaritans in Lincoln will step forward to help when needed.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Last minute shopping

Christmas crime, for some reason, always interests me. I'm just amazed at the dumb stuff people do on Christmas eve and Christmas day that land them with a court date--or worse yet, in the slammer. A dozen shoplifting arrests took place yesterday, as a few folks got in some last minute shopping. Beer seemed to be the most common target, accounting for a third of the ill-gotten goods.

The first arrest of Christmas day, just a few minutes after midnight, was also for shoplifting. Two offenders with a past history boosted some lingerie and personal electronics from Dr. John's, a purveyor of, shall we say, adult-themed products. There won't be much joy on Christmas for this pair. as the prior offenses resulted in booking the defendants into jail, rather than cite-and-release.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Nebraska 511

Seasoned readers of the Director's Desk know that I've had a longtime interest in location-based services: applications that deliver useful information to users based on their current location. Good public safety examples include P3i and PulsePoint. With winter weather beginning to set in, it would be a good time to remind folks about an excellent app from the Nebraska Department of Roads: Nebraska 511.

The Department of Roads travel information website, Nebraska 511, has been around for many years now, and has developed quite nicely. There is a full-featured version of the website, a streamlined version, and a version optimized for small screens. But there is also a mobile application designed specifically for smartphones, available in both Apple and Android flavors.

The mobile version has evolved a lot in recent years, and the current version is very slick indeed. It's great for checking road conditions, traffic in the metro areas, and for peeking at the large network of traffic cameras on Nebraska's highway system.

Next time you're taking a trip, try the "Tell me" feature--which will alert you to road closures, construction projects, and traffic incidents which are near your path.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

No logical explanation

Yesterday morning, folks here in Lincoln awoke to a couple inches of fresh snow. I was up early, watching the big flakes fall in the still darkness. It was beautiful, but from lots of past experience, I knew it would be wise to get an early start on my day: avoid the traffic, head to the office, and watch the chaos of the morning commute unfold.

The roads were slick in my subdivision, but merely wet and slushy once I hit arterials. I arrived at the office without a problem, but still expected Armageddon: it just doesn't take much to make the pending dispatch screen explode with collisions. Sometimes just a little rain will do it, and the first significant snow of the year seemed certain, despite the fact that it was more wet than slick.

The trouble, however, never emerged. We ended the day with 22 traffic crashes, which is just slightly below the daily average. Interestingly, five days ago, on December 10th the weather was beautiful. It was sunny, calm, and the high hit 62 degrees--very unusual for Lincoln in mid-December. About half way through the day I noticed that we were logging quite a few crashes, and sent out a tweet about that fact. We ended the day on December 10th with 38 crashes, far above the average of 23.

Perfect weather, crashes abound. First snowfall of note, all is well. There's no logical explanation for that, but we should take it while we can get it. I can assure you that we'll have our days of 78, 98, or 123 traffic crashes ahead. Anyone remember December, 2009?