A new internet-based system is tracking emergency 911 calls to pinpoint locations where emergencies are most likely to happen.

Virtua uses historical data from past 911 calls, factoring the time of day, weather and traffic conditions to highlight areas most in need of emergency response units.

According to CBS Philadelphia, Virtua’s computer system predicts when and where an emergency may happen. It highlights areas where emergency activity is most prevalent and then ensures units are ready within close proximity of problem areas.

Using data to help predict where emergency response is neededVirtua has 13 paramedic units using GPS locators and are connected to a central system which sends the latest updates direct to their onboard computer systems. Units are in operation in Camden and Burlington counties and dispatchers at a centralized location keep track of the ever-changing map.

According to Virtua, the predictive model changes every ten minutes which means available units have to adjust to fit this change to reduce response times.

“just a few weeks ago we had an area that appeared to be purple on that screen, high predictive likelihood of a call. Within moments of them being there a 911 call came in. They were able to respond to that call in less than two minutes.”

The company’s Assistant Vice President, Scott Kasper, told CBS that “just a few weeks ago we had an area that appeared to be purple on that screen, high predictive likelihood of a call. Within moments of them being there a 911 call came in. They were able to respond to that call in less than two minutes.”

However, some critics say it’s near enough impossible to predict where and when an emergency will occur as it is based on chance, luck or bad luck. What the Virtua system is actually charting is just where 911 calls are usually coming in, which happen to be near built up or localized areas.

According to nj.com, the Virtua service has come under widespread criticism amid claims that more than half of 911 calls made to paramedic services in Camden County over the past three and a half years took more than eight minutes to arrive, quashing claims that the Virtua service does what it says.

It remains to be seen whether this technology becomes more widespread as recent results imply the methods used are not really reducing emergency response times.

A more common sense approach would tell you that computer technology is highly unlikely to be able to predict events that are down to the laws of chance, unless of course it can help us see into the future, which will be the greatest technological breakthrough ever found.

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