Although they're not yet at the level of Batman's harnessing all Gotham City cell phones in "The Dark Knight" to become one huge sensoring device, emergency services are beginning to utilize the vast, in-the-field multimedia army that ordinary citizens have become. On Monday, the Israeli company NICE Systems offered another step in that direction, with the release of an enhancement to its Inform multimedia incident information management solution.

The new offering provides the ability for security Relevant Products/Services control centers and Public Safety Answering Points, or PSAPs, to utilize text, video and audio recordings from outside technology to become part of their incident timelines.

Useful for Prosecution and Training

NICE Inform is an existing application that helps emergency centers manage multimedia information about incidents, using media sources that the centers control or to which they have direct access. In addition to audio and video, the multimedia data Relevant Products/Services can include police radio transmissions, geo-location positioning, or Web data.

The new enhancements add the ability for emergency centers to utilize media from third parties, such as smartphones. Other third party sources could include bank video management systems for ATM transactions and bank security, or similar systems in mass transit systems.

Once imported into the Inform organizer, the third party media is synchronized with existing media and the overall timeline.

We asked Diamond Chaflawee, NICE Systems' Director of Product Marketing, to describe a possible use case for the new enhancement.

He pointed to an example of, say, a robbery at a 7-11 convenience store. A nearby emergency response center Relevant Products/Services with Inform would have the ability to utilize 911 call audio, radio traffic that dispatches the police, or a city surveillance camera near the store. The media-enhanced timelines, he said, "can show what dispatchers saw and what happened," and can be used later as evidence for legal prosecution or as material for training.

The Media Army

Now, he said, Inform can also handle video taken with the store's own security camera, or video or photos captured by a smartphone. Chaflawee noted that the emergency system can presently only use the audio from its sources in real time, so that the emergency center can, for instance, quickly retrieve the address information as needed from the 911 call.

Real time access to other kinds and sources of media is coming, he said, adding that the company already has developed "technology designed for real-time Relevant Products/Services use, called NICE Situator."

Brad Shimmin, who covers social media for industry research firm Current Analysis, wonders whether emergency centers have procedures in place to utilize streams of media from the many mobile Relevant Products/Services capture and transmission devices out there, especially if there was real-time access.

Chaflawee said that, "in general, emergency centers have an understanding" that real-time use of third-party media is coming as part of the Next Generation 911 technologies, and they know they have to get ready for it.