Leveraging Open Data, Building Apps for Public Safety

One of the core goals of the President’s Safety Data Initiative is to empower first responders and the public with information to make the safest and smartest decisions when they need it. In support of this goal, there has been a proliferation of innovative public safety apps—a number of which have been highlighted at the OSTP-supported Safety Datapalooza—using open data from local governments and Federal agencies.

The Red Cross Hurricane and Earthquake apps, for example, put lifesaving information in the hands of people who live in or are visiting hurricane- and earthquake-prone areas, giving instant access to local information on what to do before, during, and after hurricanes or earthquakes. And the PulsePoint app empowers citizens trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to provide life‐saving assistance to heart attack victims by notifying those trained citizens when someone nearby is having a cardiac emergency. The app also directs citizen rescuers to the location of the closest publicly accessible Automated External Defibrillator.

To make this growing number of public safety apps more available and useful, organizations supporting the first responder community have begun to aggregate and promote them. Yesterday, for example, saw the launch of a new public safety application community, “AppComm,”created by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International.

Separately, in support of the President’s call to improve public safety and emergency preparedness, the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) had its latest board meeting on Tuesday.  

An independent authority within the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, FirstNet was established to design and deploy a nationwide interoperable wireless broadband network for the Nation’s first responders. At the group’s Tuesday meeting, FirstNet Chairman Sam Ginn—who has promoted the idea of one-stop first-responder app stores—announced the appointment of Bill D’Agostino, Jr., as FirstNet’s General Manager. We congratulate Bill on his new role and look forward to FirstNet’s exploration of new ways to harness and expand the community of application developers to create new, easy-to-use, public safety applications.

Tom Power is U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Telecommunications at OSTP

Brian Forde is Senior Advisor to the U.S. Chief Technology Officer for Mobile and Data Innovation  at OSTP

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