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Why should I use a first responder app for navigation?

Summary


The use of navigation services enables first responders to respond to emergencies more quickly, safely, and economically. According to studies and research outlined below, navigation services, such as a first responder app, can help reduce response times an average of 11%, reduce predicted fatalities 7%, improve driving performance by a factor of 2, reduce driving safety errors by 50%, save around 5 cents per mile, and reduce gasoline consumption 27%. A first responder app directly addresses the universal needs of first responders as identified by the US Department of Commerce.


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Time Saved


The US Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a final study of the economic benefits of GPS. It concluded the use of turn-by-turn directions from GPS resulted in an 11% average time savings. This is understandable on a base level. Even though a first responder may be familiar with the area and know a route to the incident, it may not be the most time-efficient route at that moment. Dynamically updated navigation directions, such as those provided by a first responder mobile application or "first responder app", can provide significant time-saving advantages and free up the first responder to focus on moving to the incident, rather than wayfinding.


...the use of turn-by-turn directions from GPS-enabled devices resulted in an 11% average time savings....


Lives Saved


Faster response times intuitively correlate with saving lives. This is further supported by a formula developed by the British government, as cited by the Fire Brigades Union, indicating "...a 10% increase in RTC [Road Traffic Collisions] response times translates into a 7% increase in predicted fatalities at RTCs." The inverse of this suggests a 10% decrease in response times to road traffic collisions likely translates to a 7% decrease in predicted fatalities.


...a 10% decrease in response times to road traffic collisions likely translates to a 7% decrease in predicted fatalities.

Reduced cognitive load


While the study cautions that it "cannot infer that GPS use will improve driving performance beyond an experimental setting", the Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy noted "...the use of GPS appears to relieve the executive function burden involved in spatial navigation by eliminating route planning and selection, novelty detection, selection and maintenance of navigational goals, and spatial memory...". Drivers in the study performed approximately 2 times better when using GPS navigation and made roughly half the number of safety and navigation errors, versus drivers using printed directions.


Drivers in the study performed approximately 2 times better when using GPS navigation and made roughly half the number of safety and navigation errors....


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Fuel savings


An 11% reduction in travel time means first responders can save approximately 5 cents per mile, 0.27 gallons per mile-hour, or $1.20 per gallon by using GPS-enabled navigation. These savings were calculated based on the following sources.


...first responders can save approximately 5 cents per mile, 0.27 gallons per mile-hour, or $1.20 per gallon...

Universal Need


In 2018, a US Department of Commerce NIST study of first responders concluded that "...all [first responders] need to know the location and nature of incidents, and traffic patterns while en route....". A wireless incident alert from a first responder app with embedded navigation directions effectively answers the need to know the nature of an incident, it's location, and the optimal way to get there.


"...all [first responders] need to know the location and nature of incidents, and traffic patterns while en route...."

What is an example of a first responder app for navigation?


Live Alarm by Lifeline Applications is a mobile and web first responder app designed to help first responders navigate to and deal with a wide range of emergencies. With it, first responders - police, fire, and paramedics - can notify all personnel involved of an incident, plot turn-by-turn navigation directions in Google Maps, share photos, videos, text messages, and view and edit a common map. This first responder app frequently receives unsolicited feedback from clients indicating how easy it is to learn and use. To learn more about the Live Alarm first responder app, please visit the Lifeline Applications page or contact us.

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References:


GPS-Enabled Navigation Services: GPS-enabled navigation services are software applications that utilize a satellite constellation owned and operated by the US government, known as the Global Positioning System (GPS), in order to calculate the location of GPS receivers, such as smartphones. Software applications receive and process the raw data from the GPS receiver, and render it on a digital map. While GPS alone provides high accuracy in optimal conditions, differing environmental factors, such as building interference, can cause incorrect location readings. As a result, modern location services, such as Google Maps, use other methods including WiFi signals and cellular data in order to reduce location errors. The result is an increasingly precise, but imperfect, real-time rendering of a user's location. Other methods - such as magnetic positioning, bluetooth low energy (BLE), radio-frequency identification (RFID), and simultaneous location and mapping (SLAM) - show promising reductions in GPS-enabled location error, but are not yet widely available.


National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): "Economic Benefits of the Global Positioning System (GPS)"

https://www.nist.gov/system/files/documents/2020/02/06/gps_finalreport618.pdf


National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): "Public Safety Communication User Needs: Voices of First Responders" https://www.nist.gov/publications/public-safety-communication-user-needs-voices-first-responders. A public version may be accessed at: https://tsapps.nist.gov/publication/get_pdf.cfm?pub_id=925970


AlphaBeta: "The economic impact of geospatial services: how consumers, businesses and society benefit from location-based information" https://alphabeta.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/GeoSpatial-Report_Sept-2017.pdf


Fire Brigades Union: "It's about time: Why emergency response times matter to firefighters and the public" https://www.fbu.org.uk/publications/its-about-time-why-emergency-response-times-matter-firefighters-and-public


Fuel Savings: The calculation of 5 cents saved per mile, 0.27 gallons per mile-hour, or $1.20 saved per gallon from an 11% reduction in travel time was made based on an average vehicle speed of 62.9 mph as calculated by the NHTSA, a 25.4 mpg average fuel economy for new 2020 vehicles as calculated by the EPA, and a $4.427 per gallon national average price for regular gasoline observed on 5 May, 2022 by AAA.

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