In April 2015 APCO International (the US based affiliate group) launched an online forum for apps dedicated to public safety and emergency response. In this country British APCO is taking a significant role in ensuring a standardised approach to certifying apps before they can be considered for direct connection in the 999 system.

999 App Certification Scheme

British APCO sits on the UK 999 Liaison Committee. This group is chaired by DCMS and has representatives from the emergency services, their four respective government departments, Civil Contingencies Secretariat, British Telecom and the mobile network operators.

In 2013 a presentation was made to the committee about a potentially life-saving smartphone app. The company had been working with the North East Ambulance Service to develop the app (‘Real Rider’) and both parties were happy that this should become available across the UK – and linked to the 999 service.

British APCO took the lead and has since developed the 999 App Certification Scheme, which was launched during the B-APCO Annual Conference and Exhibition 2016 held in March at the Telford International Centre. This allows app developers to present their app to a team with relevant operational and technical expertise. If the app is deemed to have the potential to save life, the developer(s) will be put in touch with a suitable ‘host’ agency (Fire, Ambulance, Police, Coastguard – or a combination). The agency will work (on behalf of their single service) to make the app suitable for operational needs. This may include such issues as the information required, or the level of false activations deemed acceptable. Once both host and developer are satisfied with the performance of the app, they will return to the 999 App Certification Panel for approval. Next stages will be technical testing with BT, briefing of the rest of the UK emergency service(s) for when the app goes live – and final sign off by the UK 999 Liaison Committee. A British APCO certificate will be awarded and the app will be publicly endorsed for its suitability to be integrated with the 999 service.

When a certified app activates in the ‘real world’, relevant data will delivered (via EISEC) directly into the Command and Control software of the appropriate emergency service. An annual re-certification process will ensure that the app continues to perform to its required standard.

The process guidance document can be found here: B-APCO 999 App Certification Process Document

If you would like to submit an app for consideration by the 999 App Certification Panel and possible entry into the process, please read the document above thoroughly and then email andy.rooke@bapco.org.uk and ian.thompson@bapco.org.uk with full details.