In this episode of HxGN Radio, we discover how HxGN Connect and Smart Advisor’s assistive AI combine with Emergency Data Exchange (EDX) to provide public safety professionals with cutting-edge technology and supplemental data sources that generate actionable insights, greater situational awareness and enhanced emergency response. We are joined by Steven Marz, Vice President, Global Product Management from Hexagon’s Safety, Infrastructure and Geospatial division and Dave Sehnert, Head of Public Safety Partnerships from RapidSOS.
BK: Welcome to HXGN radio. My name is Brian, and in today’s podcast, we’re going to be discussing how HXGN Connect and Smart Advisors assistive AI combine with RapidSOS’s emergency data exchange, EDX, to provide public safety professionals with cutting-edge technology and supplemental data sources that generate actionable insights, greater situational awareness, and enhanced emergency response. Joining me today are Steven Marz, Vice President, Product Strategy and Innovation from Hexagon’s Safety Infrastructure and Geospatial, and Dave Sehnert, Head of Public Safety Partnerships from RapidSOS. Gentlemen, thanks for joining me, appreciate it.
DS: Thank you.
SM: Thank you.
BK: So, we’re going to talk, first of all, about you guys. So, tell me about yourself. What you do, what you’re nerding out on in your free time and stuff like that. So, let’s do this, let’s say, Dave, you go first.
DS: Thanks, Brian. Yes. So lately what I’ve been really excited about is additional data and RapidSOS has been the leader in bringing additional data, and I use… additional data is this funny term in the industry. It’s such a generic term, but it means something to those that are in the industry. So why are you talking about additional data? What does that really mean? What that means is information about the context of the emergency 911 calls are made today, and very little information is really provided to help that telecommunicator understand the situation, dispatch resources. And so RapidSOS has taken an approach where we’re bringing connected mobility, data, safety, and security system information and medical health profile information to 911 at the time of the incident.
For that matter, last year, we supported over 165 million incidents with location information, connected mobility data, and the like. And so, I have the ultimate pleasure of working with all of our partners to really identify the best way to deliver that information to their work screen, to their application. They are experts in those workflows to help manage the incident. Hexagon is absolutely a leader, the leader in the industry for the computer aid dispatch and expanding into so many other areas that are really exciting for us, as a data provider, if you will. Really reconnect the dots. We get the folks that the applications in the field that have data and need to get it to 911, and we have the opportunity to then, deliver it to the applications at the desktop, and that’s where Hexagon is such a great leader and… so happy to be able to work with them.
BK: That’s great. Well, how did you come to RapidSOS in the first place?
DS: So, I’ve been in the industry 21 years and I started my career in wireless 911 implementation in early 2000. So right when trying to figure out how to get the wireless calls to the right location and get somewhat of an accurate location to the call taker, at that time, it was cutting edge GPS location. But so much has gone on over the years. So, I started my career in that space and then went into Next Gen 911 in 2007. So Next Gen 911 is really about bringing 911 as a whole to a modern infrastructure. So utilising internet protocol, networks, and then building applications that can really enhance that operation through location-based call routing, and then the additional data that I spoke of earlier in the intro piece. And so, prior to joining RapidSOS, I spent seven years consulting state and local entities, as well as national 911 programme in their Next Gen 911 strategy and planning, and execution, implementation side of things. So, but throughout that process, I heard a lot of use cases around additional data and hyper accurate location.
But in my opinion, not enough was being done there, and so joining RapidSOS to help our mission, to get that additional data to those in the field that need to dispatch resources, but also in the field that need to respond to the incident, has been very rewarding for me and being able to partner with Hexagon to bring that data to the screen and make it the best user experience possible is really what gets me excited and why I’m here today.
BK: Awesome. Awesome. Love it. All right, Steve, let’s hear a little bit about you, then. Tell us what you’re nerding out on and also about your role at Hexagon.
SM: All right. My role at Hexagon is really centred on developing our product strategies and vision for going forward and looking for all-new growth opportunities and innovations. And so, two of those innovations we’ll talk about today, which is our Hexagon Connect product, and also our Smart Advisor, Assistive Artificial Intelligence. The Connect product we actually envisioned, it emanated from going to smart cities events and realising that a lot of people were there showing solutions that were kind of view-only solutions showing how different systems from different organisations could be displayed on a single screen. And I thought, wow, you know Hexagon has, actually builds, all of these solutions that they’re trying to show together.
So, we could do a better job of this if we built our own solution for integration. And so that was the birth of HxGN Connect. And so here we are today. We delivered it actually a year ago and the momentum has really been building. It’s very exciting to see it, now. And we think it’s a one of a kind type of a solution in the industry, bringing in live data into a common operating picture. And then we use the Smart Advisor to monitor the data continuously so that the operators and the human beings don’t have to go through that flood of information, and it really notifies them of the things they’re interested in. So that’s what we’ve been focused on and we’re pretty excited about it.
BK: That’s great. So, tell us more about the capabilities, then. Diving into what you’re talking about, and then, also, the assistive AI stuff.
SM: So, the HxGN Connect product really comes at the collaboration space and the data sharing space and brings that all together. I always call it this, ‘you got peanut butter in my chocolate’ moment. And so, we really do that well with live streaming data, also. It’s not historical data, it’s live streaming data bringing in what’s happening right now. And so, what we’ve had to do is to really build a very smooth, nice capability for integration of information from different sources and different systems from different organisations. And so, we do that through our Xalt integration, and then also through our API’s application programming interfaces, and that gives organisations access to real time information from both internal and external sources. Then they can share that data with others and use our data sharing controls to manage who sees what and for how long.
And so that’s, we’re trying to remove barriers to sharing information. And one of the other things we’ve done is to adopt NENA’s EIDO data sharing standard for public safety information, and that many companies are embracing that, including RapidSOS, and that’s one of the ways that we’re able to bring information from their emergency data exchange into HxGN Connect.
BK: Very nice. Very nice. Good. Okay. So, Dave, tell us a little bit more about EDX. RapidSOS’s EDX, and then talk about more… I mean you touched on this a little bit but tell us a little bit more about how this impacts public safety agencies.
DS: Yeah. So RapidSOS’s Emergency Data Exchange, or EDX, is a secure and scalable emergency data interoperability platform. It’s a backend interface that enables disparate applications to share data between one another. And how that’s done is utilising the NENA Emergency Incident Data Object, or EIDO standard. And what that is is a standardised data schema so that the language I’m speaking to you right now is English, and you speak in and can interpret English. So, we’re speaking that same language, so we’re on the same page as far as you understanding what I’m saying. And so, what EIDO does is provide that equivalent within the computer space and that the emergency incident data is specified for specific data fields, and we can then parse it. Or I should say our partners can then parse that and put it in within their own applications so that it meets their users’ needs. And that’s what really excites me about this application is that it’s a backend and we’re enabling our partners to really do what they do best and differentiate themselves at the desktop. We are simply a partner to help bring the best data to their desktop and enable them to parse that and make it the best user experience. One thing that’s exciting me, too, about EDX is that we’re really expanding the reach of emergency data and breaking down silos between applications and users in the field where, say, radio communications had to be the way in which one agency or one resource in the field communicated to another one.
That’s always prone for error because of, maybe, the radio transmission, the environment they’re in, there’s so many different factors that come into play. And so, making this a digital relay of information enables, I think, a higher level of accuracy, higher level of speed. And again, broadening the capabilities of who’s going to see the information and then making it mindless for the user at the far end so they don’t have to think about “okay, this is a tow truck company. I got to limit this information to just a certain couple fields, such as the location.” And so being able to put that power in the back end pre-provision rules and things of that sort, I think is going to really enable this to have a great impact on interoperability across jurisdictions. Certainly, powering the HxGN Connect product with more information is really exciting. And the use cases that Steve has shared with me around the Smart Advisor Assistive AI capabilities is just really impressive, and so to have the opportunity to be a part of that is super exciting for RapidSOS.
BK: Absolutely. Are you able to share any of those use cases, by chance? I know there’s probably NDI issues or whatever, but I just wanted to… or NDA, they’re all the same, right? Are you able to share any of those?
SM: We have a video that does that.
SM: And so, in that, we’ve got a use case that is… calls for service information is flowing into an emergency communication centre and one of those sources is EDX information from a different jurisdiction, and that information flows in. And it turns out criminals are really good at perpetrating their crimes across county and city borders, and this eliminates the borders, essentially.
BK: Oh cool. Yes. That’s good.
SM: Unless you bring data from all these sources together in one place.
SM: And then we use the smart advisor to say, “Hey, you know what? This is the same thing going on in these two places.” Boom.
BK: Oh, nice. That’s cool. Okay. Yes, no, that’s a great one. I appreciate that. So, Dave, what other public safety challenges does this new integration address, then?
DS: You know, I’ve addressed a couple of them, but one thing that’s, I think, is really exciting is when we look at EDX and empowering it for getting data to the desktop, getting data from the desktop to another agency. One of the challenges out there today is there’s a lot of on-premises systems. And the cloud has been growing and growing over the years and our platform is built in the cloud, we’re a cloud company, cloud-based. We’re not a cloud company. We don’t provide the cloud, but we, all of our applications are based in the cloud… and so we have opportunities to partner with those solution providers that provide the emergency services IP networks and can extract, the data from those systems and enable them to appreciate the benefit of a cloud application while still having their on-premise systems protected and being able to see those machines every night and giving them that sense of comfort. Which is true and it’s real in the public safety world. But what we’re helping to do, as well, is dream what’s possible because these applications – both in the field, in the hands of the emergency responders, as well as those at the desktop – by having a standardised data schema, they can think of new ways in which they can serve their customers. And then also, new ways in which data can just inform their workflows and processes. And that’s what’s really impressive for the Smart Advisor for me, is there’s a lot of information out there.
So how do you really tap it and make it intelligent, make that data informative so that efficiencies can be gained by all of those that need or have a need to be informed by that information?
DS: And if I may, one situation that I was thinking of is a use case. I’m from Colorado and there was a Marshall fire, recently, in December of 2021. Absolutely catastrophic fire. 1100 buildings burnt to the ground. Fortunately, I think there was only one death in that whole thing. I can’t believe that.
BK: Yes. That was surprising.
DS: Yes, unreal. That night, as I sat prepared to evacuate my home, I sat and listened to the radio scanner and hearing all the chatter going on, all the coordination going on. The field responders, just amazing how cool and collected they are. Dispatchers just managing the situation. But there’s information there that could have easily been relayed, digitally, had an emergency data exchange been available. And so, I think about pairing that up with a Smart Advisor and seeing, okay, I have all these units coming from the south to the evacuation or to the incident command site. And there’s, now, this fire is starting to move in that direction. I think a Smart Advisor would be really awesome to be able to see these things coming together and notify the incident commander that we may need to start a second incident command site, or potentially evacuation centres were starting to fill up, being able to proactively identify those upcoming issues to be able to just increase the efficiencies of the operation on the ground. Now that’s just one example that I was thinking of the other night is, thinking about this podcast and some situations where I think the combo of EDX with HxGN Connect and Smart Advisor, I think, really has some great opportunity in the future.
BK: Yeah, no, that’s a great example and agreed on that. Now, Steve, from your perspective, then, what are some of the operational benefits that you are seeing from agencies that are using EDX and Connect and Smart Advisor integration?
SM: Well, so Connect pulls data from many organisations and systems in real time. And so, there’s, could be, potentially, very large amounts of data flowing into the system at any time, and that could be overwhelming to manage that. And so, this data is often unstructured data, not just from CAD systems, from many sources. And so, with Connect being able to ingest such a wide variety of data, it’s important to be able to present users with information based on their specific needs and their interests.
And so Smart Advisor comes in and organises, categorises, and extracts and relates the data in real time so that it can provide the information at a glance and giving that information to the right people for quick decision making. For example, Smart Advisor detects similarities and anomalies across calls for service, and it alerts agencies to the potential onset of complex emergencies like large, rapid onset events, even to smaller linked events. And so, detecting those patterns and connections sooner, agencies can act faster and coordinate smarter to reduce the impact on communities and the resources and the staff.
BK: Excellent. Well, Dave, I’m curious how you think this is unique to other solutions on the market?
DS: So, I guess I’d start off by pointing to the scalability of the cloud and the ability for us to bring in large data sets and distribute those across hundreds, thousands of emergency communication centres, potentially, in a timely manner is, I think, just a tremendous differentiator for us. Additionally, utilising Next Gen 911 standards related to the data itself, I think, is another unique characteristic in that I believe that we’re one of the first, if not the first, to utilise the emergency incident data object, and specifically, the conveyance of EIDO. And we come to the market, we come to this, bringing the solution to the market, with a great amount of experience in the additional data delivery and learning on how to build the best APIs for our partners to consume the data. And so those, I think, are some pretty unique differentiation points. Also, the opportunity that this solution will provide for expanding the use cases. Expanding the user community to applications for the field responders, all the different Next Gen 911 functional elements within the Next Gen 911 core services can be part of this ecosystem contributing and consuming data. And then thinking about the tertiary agencies that support these emergencies every day but have limited insight to what’s actually going on as the emergencies are occurring, and those being entities such as the healthcare systems, the hospitals and the like.
And so being able to bring all that information together and produce an environment where data can be shared at the time of the incident, and others can get updated as that incident unfolds, is pretty exciting. And that’s what really gets me really jazzed is talking with the partners about how this solution can be unique within their own application and how we can help that just build a better product, better user experience for the consumers. And so that’s what’s really rewarding for me.
BK: Great. That’s awesome. All right. So where can we go for more information and then, also, share any final thoughts you have, as well.
DS: So, for emergency data exchange at RapidSOS, I would just encourage you to go straight to our website, RapidSOS.com.
DS: We also have our public safety team that’s always out there in the field working with public safety agencies, informing them of our products and services, and so those emergency communications managers and regional managers are always great resources to reach out to for that individual touch.
BK: Excellent. Steve?
SM: And for us, of course, you can reach out to Hexagon.com and also to our account managers in the regions around the world.
BK: All right. Excellent. Well, Steve and Dave, thank you. Really appreciate it.
SM: Thank you.
BK: Great having you here. Great information, great product, and lots of amazing impact that you’re having. So, thank you for sharing all this.
SM: Thanks, Brian.
DS: Thank you.
BK: All right. Steven Marz, Vice President Product Strategy and Innovation from HxGN’s Safety Infrastructure and Geospatial, and Dave Sehnert, head of Public Safety Partnerships from RapidSOS, thank you so much for joining us here, on HXGN radio. For more information, and also to listen to additional HXGN radio episodes, head on over to iTunes, Spotify, or SoundCloud. You can also visit hxgnspotlight.com for more stories from Hexagon. Thank you again for joining us. Have a wonderful day.