Pilot Project Tests Prototype Social Media Tool to Improve Emergency Response Outcomes

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (October 26, 2018)—Charleston County Consolidated 911 Center, Mission Critical Partners (MCP), RapidSOS and RapidDeploy today announced the results from a pilot project completed in September that tested the use of social media data in emergency response.

The project, which included collaborators from the Penn State University (PSU) College of Information Sciences’ 3C Informatics: Crisis, Community and Civic Informatics, led by Dr. Andrea Tapia, explored how access to social media data could potentially improve situational awareness during emergencies and its impact on 911 operations.

A key finding of the project was that telecommunicators and first responders universally agreed that social media provides the 911 community with an increasingly important tool for augmenting emergency response, provided that the data is properly integrated and operationalized.


A social media prototype was developed to search, map and filters relevant information from a large dataset of real-world social media posts .

Following a data collection phase that was completed in May, PSU, MCP and RapidSOS developed a prototype social media application that was designed to determine which types of social media data would be most useful during the call-taking and dispatching processes. This platform searches, maps and filters relevant information from a large dataset of real-world social media posts captured during emergencies and allows telecommunicators to focus on the emergency at hand without having to dig through irrelevant information. The prototype was tested in August using emergency scenarios where a communications specialist shared information with dispatchers to enhance 911 workflows.

Several other takeaways surfaced during the pilot project that will be critical elements in developing a solution that allows for improved emergency response when someone is unable to place a 911 call:

  • Seeing social media data integrated within an existing call-handling or dispatching platform is key. In Charleston, a RapidDeploy cloud-based computer-aided dispatch (CAD) platform was used to demonstrate how data could be displayed in a CAD user interface.
  • The integration of new data, including social media, into PSAP operations will require new, advanced training for multiple roles, including call takers, dispatchers, supervisors, managers, and technical staff.
  • While first responders and telecommunicators were enthused about the opportunity to leverage social media, they offered varying opinions regarding the types of information they found most valuable given their specific emergency response role.
  • New roles and skills may be necessary for monitoring, analyzing and operationalizing social media data. For example, a 911 center might want to add a communications specialist role which could provide career path progression for call takers or dispatchers with strong analytical and problem-solving skills.


“What I found most exciting during the pilot project was the level of passion and teamwork that took place among the Charleston staff members. We cannot thank Charleston enough for their willingness to participate in this project that we feel will be instrumental as we seek to understand how data can improve emergency response outcomes,” said Dave Sehnert, director of innovation and integration, Mission Critical Partners.

“Supplemental emergency data from sources like social media offers the opportunity for more efficient, better prepared emergency response. We’re excited to work with innovators in the 911 community to explore ways for PSAPs to operationalize additional sources of emergency data such as social media,” said Tom Guthrie, vice president of public safety operations, RapidSOS.


About Mission Critical Partners (MCP)
Mission Critical Partners (MCP) is a professional services and co-managed and IT services firm that helps clients evolve their public safety systems and operations and improve emergency response through our extensive experience, knowledge and resources. By providing insight and support every step of the way, our clients are able to transform their mission-critical operations, maximizing the value of their investments and ensuring optimal performance and success. Additional information is available at

About RapidSOS

Partnering with Internet of Things (IoT) companies and the public safety community, RapidSOS provides a rich data link to public safety via the NG911 Clearinghouse– sending lifesaving data to aid in emergency response. The NG911 Clearinghouse is a free service to public safety and is integrated with all major vendors of 911 call-taking, dispatching and mapping software. Learn more about RapidSOS:

About Charleston County 911 Center
The Charleston County Consolidated 9-1-1 Center provides call taking and/or dispatch services for 33 Law, Fire, Emergency Medical Service and Emergency Management agencies within Charleston County, SC.  The authorized staff of 139 Supervisors and Communicators process approximately 1.2 million phone calls annually resulting in approximately 865,000 incidents.  Those operations staff members are supported by 28 additional positions, which include 9 dedicated IT personnel.  The Center has Public Safety Communications Accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) and Emergency Fire and Medical Dispatch Accreditation from the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED).

About 3CInformatics

3C Informatics is an Applied Research Center housed inside the College of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State University. The Center is a confederation of faculty, graduate students and community organizations all aimed at studying and developing strategies for how technologies could improve and empower physical communities, their leaders and their organizations. This research has potential to help communities make use of large amounts of citizen-produced data, which in turn may improve the speed, quality, and efficiency of governmental and organizational response, leading to more lives saved. The Center partners with are local government, police, fire, and emergency medical services, and local and regional emergency management organizations.

About RapidDeploy

RapidDeploy provides an innovative cloud-based Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) and 9-1-1 analytics platform purpose-built for public safety. The RapidDeploy system simplifies the complexity of emergency dispatch through precise location information, improved situational awareness, allocation of appropriate resources for optimized response, mobile field service apps and advanced incident management tools. RapidDeploy was built by First Responders using a modern architecture like the Microsoft Azure Government Cloud, an Open API platform that allows for easy interfaces, and state-of-the-art Artificial Intelligence. RapidDeploy’s mission is to reduce response times for all and improve first responder safety by increasing situational awareness.