Carbyne revolutionises emergency calls using Vonage SMS and Messages APIs

Using Vonage APIs, Carbyne delivers critical caller information to emergency call agents, reducing the number of first responders who need to be dispatched and saving thousands of lives each year.

Service agent in an emergency dispatch center

Vonage Solutions and Features

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Challenge

After first developing an app-based solution for PSAP sites, Carbyne realised that a web-based solution was needed for emergency call agents to receive advanced information from a mobile data source. They needed a secure, reliable means of transmitting critical information for these communications.
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Solution

Vonage Messages API • Vonage SMS API
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Results

By using Vonage APIs, Carbyne’s solution uses features of mobile phones to communicate a caller’s precise location to emergency services. The use of Carbyne has reduced the number of first responders dispatched to emergencies by 42% and has saved thousands of lives each year.

As the use of mobile phones has grown throughout the world, the number of emergency calls made from those phones has exploded. In the United States alone, more than 240 million emergency calls are made each year. And today’s mobile phones have the ability to provide emergency dispatch services, called Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs), with important information that they can transmit to call responders. This realisation struck Amir Elichai, co-founder and CEO of Carbyne

He had just been robbed and made a call to local emergency services. “The call taker needed to ask a lot of questions like, what is my name, where I was, what I saw in front of me and more. I thought, how strange that in the 21st century it takes so long to get help in an emergency. When you call for an Uber or order a pizza, they can automatically see your location through your phone. So why are emergency services not the same?” This was the question that prompted Elichai and partner Alex Dizengof to develop Carbyne’s solution.

Historically, PSAPs have often not been able to get precise location information from mobile callers. When the person calling is injured and not able to speak or give the proper information, PSAPs had to “ping” that person’s phone to get an approximate location. While the location of the cell site closest to the emergency caller may provide a general indication of where the call is coming from, that information is not always specific enough for rescue personnel to deliver assistance quickly. 

“According to the FCC, 10,000 people lose their lives every year because first responders are not able to get accurate location information from emergency calls,” said Dizengof. “We knew that we had to do something about this; something that would revolutionise this process and save lives.”

Using Vonage APIs to Power Next-Generation Emergency Responses 

The first solution that Carbyne developed was application-based, but the Carbyne team soon realised that, for emergency purposes, it wasn’t realistic for all people to download an app to make an emergency call. They soon shifted to a web-based solution that could be deployed by any PSAP. 

According to Oded Gal, Carbyne product manager, “We developed software for the PSAP site so that call takers would be able to receive advanced information of any type from a mobile data source. We transitioned from a mobile app to a web app solution.” Now, when an emergency call comes in, the PSAP sends out a link to the caller’s mobile device. The link opens a one-time session via the web browser without the need for a pre-installed application. That’s where Vonage APIs come into play. 

The link that is shared by the PSAP connects the caller to the emergency center by using either the Vonage SMS or Messages API. A message with a link is automatically sent to the caller’s device. Tapping the link will allow the caller to send accurate device-based location and video to the PSAP, as well as enabling 2-way chat with the call-taker who answered the call.

At first, Carbyne used the Vonage SMS API for authentication on their mobile application. However, in some countries, including the US, people do not have access to SMS when on an emergency call. When looking for a way around this issue, Carbyne realised that they could use certain social chat apps for communications. 

"By using the Vonage Messages API, we are able to deliver location, video and other information 50% faster than over PSTN [public switched telephone networks] and in a much more reliable way."
Alex Dizengof, Founder and CTO, Carbyne

Integrating with Social Chat Apps via Vonage Messages API

“When we first began, the way we would get caller info and send messages was over public switched telephone networks (PSTN) using SMS,” said Dizengof. “However, PSTN is not always reliable. We had to come up with a more solid solution that we could count on, and that’s when we first found out that the Vonage API could be integrated with certain social chat apps. Now, by using the Vonage Messages API, we are able to deliver location, video and other information 50% faster than over PSTN and in a much more reliable way.

“A great benefit of using Vonage APIs, compared to other SMS providers and solutions, is that with Vonage you have broad visibility into what happens once you send an SMS. You know if it was delivered, received, if someone clicked the link, what is the SLA, etc. With the Vonage Messages API we have full visibility and a good understanding of what’s happening so that we can provide better help to our customers.”

Vonage Support and Collaboration

Because every second counts in emergency communications, Carbyne’s top priority has been to make sure that any vendor they work with can deliver the highest performance and reliability available. “Before choosing Vonage, I personally met with several people from the company in the US, UK and Israel,” said Elichai. “The Vonage team was very open to innovation and thinking out of the box to help us address our challenges. It’s great to work with a large company that has a startup mentality.”

Oded Gal agrees. “When Carbyne and Vonage were faced with some technical challenges in Mexico, Vonage really showed us their true colours. Some companies would have told us, ‘Hey pal, this is the service you paid for, so good luck.’ Not Vonage. With the Vonage team we have partners that get us through the most challenging times to help us solve any issues that arise.”

Vonage and Carbyne: a life-saving solution

Today Carbyne operates out of five offices around the world, providing a service that supports more than 200 million people in 15 countries and addresses 4 million calls per month. By providing precise location information and an expanded view of what is taking place at the scene of an event, Carbyne’s solution has been instrumental in a 42% reduction of the number of first responders dispatched to emergencies.

Carbyne’s enhanced capabilities, which secure and deliver critical information during life-threatening situations, are put to the test every day. Recently in Mexico, a kidnapped family who called 911 were rescued with the help of Carbyne using Vonage and a publicly available messaging app to deliver video and essential information about their location. That is just one of many true stories that have had happy endings because of Carbyne and the use of Vonage APIs.

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