GAINESVILLE, Ga. (March 29, 2023) – The Gainesville Fire Department (GFD) has a new trick up its sleeve to warn drivers when they’re approaching a fast-moving emergency vehicle or a scene that’s actively being worked by public safety personnel.
Gainesville Fire Chief Brandon Ellis recently announced GFD has partnered with HAAS Alert to implement Safety Cloud®, “the first-ever connected vehicle platform dedicated to road safety, delivering advance warning digital alerts to drivers when hazards are ahead,” states haasalert.com.
Even with flashing lights, sirens and other warning equipment, HAAS Alert recognizes drivers frequently fail to slow down or move over for emergency responders, but Safety Cloud® delivers advance warning to oncoming motorists 24/7.
“This is an extra step the Gainesville Fire Department has taken to better protect the public and first responders while alleviating traffic congestion in the City of Gainesville during times of emergency,” Ellis said. “Our hope is this safety solution will not only encourage drivers to consider a different route when they know a hazard’s ahead, but reduce the risk of collisions. Additionally, Safety Cloud® will aid GFD in tracking fleet and crew statuses, and improve response times and interagency coordination.”
Safety Cloud’s ability to deliver real-time digital alerts to drivers from emergency vehicles, responders, work zones and road hazards have also proven to reduce the risk of collisions by 90%.
“When fleets or roadway assets are en route or on scene, Safety Cloud® delivers real-time notifications to approaching drivers through the navigation applications and vehicle infotainment centers they're already using today,” haasalert.com states.
Ellis said that includes Apple Maps and Waze navigation apps, as well as in the dashboard of many newer-model vehicles. Safety Cloud® alerts are now delivered in the infotainment screen of millions of vehicles through a partnership with global automaker Stellantis, HAAS Alert states, so drivers of 2018 and newer models of Jeep, Ram, Chrysler, Dodge and Alfa Romeo vehicles all receive Safety Cloud® alerts through the new Emergency Vehicle Alert System feature.
“Waze and Apple Maps are free-to-use apps, so we encourage drivers to get advance warning of our presence when we’re actively responding,” Ellis said. “If people are using these apps or driving a vehicle with GPS, they’ll automatically receive a notification up to 30 seconds beforehand that public safety is approaching or that there’s an active emergency in the area. Any time we respond to a call, drivers in the area will get an alert.”
HAAS Alert is continuing to work on expanding the alerts to other services and vehicles, it states, so all drivers can receive these critical road safety alerts.
Even during severe weather and periods of electricity outages, for example, Safety Cloud® will continue to alert the public.
And for the substantial positive impact Safety Cloud® can have on the department and the community, Ellis said the cost is minimal as it’s only $1,500 to outfit the entire department.
While fire engines have already been outfitted with the platform, Ellis said they’re pursuing a “slow rollout” of Safety Cloud®, meaning GFD will work to equip admin vehicles and any other vehicles used for emergency response by the year’s end.
“Within 12 months, everything should be outfitted,” he said, though the goal is to have the project completed by Christmas.
Safety Cloud® is just one of the many ways GFD has been working to improve response times to emergency calls by alleviating traffic. Ellis said GFD has already completed emergency vehicle preemption at 18 intersections, the majority of which fall along Jesse Jewell Parkway. This gives first response fire apparatus a green light on their approach to a signalized intersection while providing a red light to conflicting approaches. Moving forward, GFD will continue to pursue preemption at additional intersections.
To learn more about Safety Cloud® by HAAS Alert, visit https://www.haasalert.com/.