Unveiling the Power of Common Alert Protocol (CAP) in Emergency Response

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This guest blog post was written by Todd Komanetsky, Vice President Partnerships Strategy at RapidDeploy.

Common Alert Protocol, Alyssa’s Law, and Panic Buttons

When it comes to school safety, the ability for responders to take immediate and effective action depends on both the knowledge of the incident and access to situational awareness data involved in the situation. Understanding the nature and location of an incident is essential, and equally important is the context around how best to respond. Panic buttons, indoor floor plans, CCTV cameras, and documented response plans all have an intricate role in getting the right resources for an incident.

In many states, Alyssa’s Law, for example, mandates school personnel have access to panic buttons. Florida, New Jersey, and New York have all enacted Alyssa’s Law legislation, and most recently Texas and Tennessee passed legislation in May 2023. In addition, seven other states are actively working on legislation that would require panic buttons in schools.

Alyssa's Law map
Image Source: https://makeourschoolssafe.org/alyssas-law/


What is the Common Alert Protocol (CAP)?

CAP, or the Common Alert Protocol, is a standardized messaging format for exchanging emergency alerts and notifications. It provides a universal language for communicating critical information about emergencies, facilitating interoperability among different alerting systems and devices. CAP enables emergency messages to be created, distributed, and displayed across various communication platforms, ensuring that vital information reaches the right people at the right time.

Panic buttons can be configured to transmit data via the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) in several ways with the following three broad categories:

  • Mobile Panic Button Application: Panic buttons with a native 911 call from a mobile device. This is most frequently seen as a mobile app that users have on their phone. There are typically multiple pre-configured scenarios that can trigger workflows within the school or that launch a 911 call from the device.
  • Panic Button Without 911 Call: Panic buttons that may be worn by a user, on tablets used within a facility, physically mounted within facilities or configured as soft buttons within computers can all trigger a panic event, but a 911 call is not placed from the user at that time to 911.
  • Human-Triaged Panic Events: Emergency events that can be triggered by camera detection or physical panic buttons, for example, that route signals to a monitoring center, that then triages the event and determines if emergency services are required. If the triage center validates a threat, the center communicates with the appropriate PSAP routing their call within the 911 network.

There are several panic button providers with a range of capabilities including mobile app-based panic buttons that combine data with a voice call to 911, physical panic buttons, soft panic buttons that are installed on school computers or tablets, and badge style which are worn by school staff. Each of these can satisfy the requirement to trigger a panic button event and silent alarms that do not include a voice call to 911.

Integration of Panic Buttons and CAP Compliant NG911

Integration between panic buttons that are CAP compliant into next-generation 911 mapping solutions enhances panic button integration capabilities. These integrations allow for seamless transmission of emergency signals and rapid response, ensuring the safety and security of individuals and facilities during times of crisis.

RapidDeploy provides the ability for an authorized panic button provider to transmit emergency panic button data via the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) to RapidDeploy Radius Mapping users. CAP has been an industry-standard protocol, and when developing our generally available panic button ingestion capability, it was important to RapidDeploy that any panic button vendor could integrate with our next-generation 911 solutions.

Developing a Common Operating Plan for Panic Buttons

RapidDeploy is committed to working with each of the key stakeholders in panic button deployments to establish a common operating plan to ensure training with panic button users aligns with standard operating procedures for 911 and public safety teams.

The receipt of and display of panic button data to a PSAP or ECC within the Radius Mapping application requires authorization and acknowledgment in writing by the panic button provider, school/facility, and PSAP/ECC.

As a best practice, it is critical to document each element that panic button end users are trained on and how that event will be managed—both within the panic button software and within Radius Mapping used by the PSAP.

The CAP Integration between Singlewire and RapidDeploy

Using CAP to ingest panic button data from Singlewire Software’s InformaCast system into RapidDeploy’s next-generation 911 Radius Mapping platform, Singlewire and RapidDeploy are further advancing emergency response capabilities. This partnership enables PSAPs and ECCs to seamlessly integrate panic button alert notifications into RapidDeploy’s Radius Mapping platform and facilitates the transmission of data from InformaCast-connected panic buttons to local 911 agencies when a panic alarm is activated, enhancing situational awareness and expediting emergency response efforts during school-related incidents.

The integration between Singlewire and RapidDeploy marks a significant milestone in the evolution of emergency response technology. By combining forces, we are empowering PSAPs to leverage advanced panic button alerting capabilities, enabling faster and more effective responses to emergencies, particularly in school settings. This collaboration supports RapidDeploy’s commitment to innovation and collaboration in the pursuit of safer communities and a more resilient emergency response ecosystem.

The Future of CAP in Emergency Response Technologies

The adoption of the Common Alert Protocol (CAP) in emergency response technologies represents a significant advancement in ensuring the safety and security of communities. By integrating CAP into RapidDeploy’s Radius Mapping solution and collaborating with industry leaders, RapidDeploy and Singlewire are harnessing the power of CAP to create a safer and more resilient world.