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Keeping responders informed: Tempe rolls out Smart911 system

TEMPE, Ariz. — Every second counts in an emergency. To make sure first responders minimize complications during emergencies, Tempe unveiled its Smart911 program Monday.

The program allows people to go online and add information that might be useful to first responders in the event of an emergency.

“So when they respond, they know what’s going on and they can be prepared for the scene when they arrive,” said Patrick Cutts, communication manager with Tempe Police.

The program works by linking a phone number with a person’s online profile so that when that number calls 911, important information such as gate codes, health information or apartment numbers can automatically be displayed to dispatchers. It can then be relayed to responding police or fire units so they can prepare ahead of arriving on scene.

“So for example, somebody may have epilepsy and they’re prone to seizures, and they can’t communicate while they’re having a seizure,” said Cutts. “On their profile, they can indicate that they have epilepsy so then we can understand that OK, we have a medical situation not just an open 911 line.”

The service could also be used to alert first responders to mental illnesses. Last month, a Phoenix woman was shot and killed by police as they were conducting a check-up. While the case is still under investigation, some argued the situation could have been avoided if the officers had more information.

Cutts said users are able to share any information they choose and withhold anything they’re not comfortable sharing. The information is only available to responders during a 911 emergency and a subsequent 45-minute window, Cutts said. It cannot be searched or retrieved on command by dispatchers or first responders.

People can sign up for free at and Cutts said anyone is welcome to sign up, not only Tempe residents.

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