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Next-Generation 911 and Software-Defined Vehicles: Saving Money and Lives

AUTOMOTIVE / 10.06.22 / Bruce Sussman

The emergence of software-defined vehicles (SDVs) and Next-Generation 911 (NG911) emergency response are on a collision course — one that will save time, money, and lives through real-time crash notification.

Crash Notification and Emergency Response

I was driving at 3 a.m., on my way to give the morning weathercast at the local NBC station in Portland, Oregon, where I worked at the time. As I maneuvered down a hill, my tires suddenly slipped over significant amounts of gravel scattered across the road. Since the material lined the road’s shoulder, I wondered: Did a car going over the edge cause this?

Doubting it was true but wanting to make sure, I brought my car to a stop. As I looked around in the dark, I saw them: two beams of light shining into the sky from a patch of fir trees covered with tall blackberry bushes. As I walked closer and shined the flashlight on my phone, I could faintly glimpse an outline. It was the front of a car, upside down with headlights on and almost completely hidden in the brush.

I called 911 and once on the scene, paramedics started working on the driver, who was injured in the crash. I still wonder: How long had he been waiting, and what if I hadn’t been there to call for help?

In today’s technology landscape, we can ask a different question: What if that upside-down car could transmit its condition, exact location, and key accident data to emergency responders — automatically and immediately, all on its own? A new partnership and technology now makes this possible.

Automated Crash Notification

A breakthrough in real-time crash notification is being driven by the NG911 standard, and the efforts of automotive software provider Roadside Telematics Corp. (RTC), which recently joined the growing BlackBerry IVY™ ecosystem. The benefits extend to drivers, passengers, and first responders, as well as to auto manufacturers and vehicle fleet managers.

RTC’s RoadMedic® Intelligent Crash Data Platform combines with BlackBerry IVY, a scalable and cloud-connected software platform for SDVs, to provide a secure and reliable way to share real-time vehicle crash sensor data with emergency services, roadside assistance, and fleet operators for rental car agencies and other commercial vehicle fleets.

Together, RTC and BlackBerry will harness artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to process crash sensor data efficiently and securely at the car’s “edge” using far less computing power than is traditionally required, enabling the near-instantaneous transmission of intelligent crash data to responders.

And the need has never been more crucial.

“We look forward to collaborating with RTC to help improve roadway safety amidst record numbers of traffic fatalities,” said Peter Virk, VP, BlackBerry IVY Product & Ecosystem. "With software increasingly being recognized as the driving force of automotive industry innovation, delivering compelling solutions such as this, that are seamlessly integrated into a vehicle’s operating system, allows OEMs to set themselves apart from one another.”

BlackBerry IVY will secure end-to-end data integrity between crash sensors in the vehicle and NG911 public safety, while RoadMedic will reduce network overhead and latency by localizing crash data processing to the car.

During a pilot program with Ford Motor Company and the Greater Harris County, Texas, 911 Emergency Network, RoadMedic demonstrated its effectiveness when a Deputy Sheriff's life was saved after a severe crash because his Ford police car was equipped with the technology.

Commercial Benefits of Automatic Accident Notification

Not only will this approach save lives, but it will also save significant time and money for automakers and self-insured commercial fleets, such as rental car companies, public sector fleets, and trucking firms.

Rental car companies, for example, often learn about crashes involving their vehicles only when they fail to show up on the return date. Now fleet managers can be made almost instantly aware of a vehicle crash, its severity, and if that vehicle needs repair or replacement. This also helps mitigate the towing and storage fees, which can add up quickly.

First Responder Benefits of Automatic Accident Notification

In addition to informing and speeding the arrival of first responders to a crash scene by providing crash location and severity, there is another significant benefit that can improve safety while reducing the costs of a crash.

Severe accidents involving electric vehicles (EVs) often require first responders to cut power to a vehicle's battery before they can help motorists. There are extremely specific ways of doing this for each model of EV to reduce risk to firefighters and vehicle occupants. Doing it “the wrong way” can not only incur costly damage to the components, but it can also result in serious injury to the car occupants or the responders.

The RoadMedic® Intelligent Crash Data Platform transmits make- and model-specific instructions to first responders as part of the accident response. This instant access to each car manufacturer’s recommended extrication procedures becomes more crucial with every new EV launched onto the market.

Built for Integration with NG911

This approach can also save money because it is designed for NG911 response, which harnesses the power of automation, the cloud, and software-defined vehicles.

“RTC eliminates the cost, complexity, and compliance inefficiencies — which automakers would otherwise need to solve — to seamlessly integrate and interface intelligent crash sensor data with NG911 public safety and first responders during roadside emergencies,” says Lawrence E. Williams, CEO, and founder of RTC. 

“Collaborating with BlackBerry helps us with speed-to-market, as part of an embedded platform already being delivered to multiple global OEMs, and will help to further our mission to provide better pre-arrival information to first responders about the severity of a crash and the likelihood of severe injuries, which can make all the difference when every second counts.”

Learn more: This is how BlackBerry IVY™ is fueling business outcomes, helping automakers and automotive suppliers.

Bruce Sussman

About Bruce Sussman

Bruce Sussman is Senior Managing Editor at BlackBerry.