The Future of Emergency Response: San Rafael’s Journey with Opticom™ EVP and Whelen VSG

By: Miovision Team | Jan 17, 2024

Every second counts during an emergency. That’s why public safety teams in San Rafael, California deployed Opticom™ Emergency Vehicle Preemption (EVP) in partnership with Whelen VSG technology. Our cloud solution helps get first responders where they’re needed, safely and efficiently.

Keep reading to learn how we helped build a smart city emergency response plan using cloud connectivity.

The Need for Road Safety in Emergency Responses

In modern cities like San Rafael, traffic congestion often stands as a barrier between an emergency response team and those in need. On top of gridlock lengthening response times, traffic also creates anxiety for first responders while behind the wheel. Heavy traffic increases the risk of an en-route crash—especially when driving through an intersection. 

Innovative solutions are needed to overcome these challenges in California. New technology makes roads safer not only for first responders but also for other travelers sharing the roads with them. This was especially true in San Rafael, where its emergency readiness and ability to respond was impacted by heavy traffic conditions. 

Opticom EVP technology is such a solution. It can be quickly deployed through cloud connectivity and integrated with previously existing Whelen infrastructure. Cloud connectivity improves the area our solutions cover, supporting mutual aid between public safety agencies and enabling faster setup. This cutting-edge partnership is making San Rafael smarter today for a safer tomorrow. 

Understanding San Rafael’s Unique Emergency Response Challenges

San Rafael suffers from extreme traffic congestion present throughout California. This is especially true on the 101 Freeway, where frustrated drivers seek alternative routes when cars grind to a halt.

Emergency vehicles are too often stuck in these intersection deadlocks, which, given California’s propensity for wildfires, is of great concern. A growing community of approximately 60,000 people needed more. The current state is already much better since we deployed the solution last year.

Proactive and tailored emergency response planning is needed to keep a community like San Rafael safe. Response and recovery workers need to be able to respond quickly and without endangering themselves while en route. The dedicated personnel are there—it’s time to give their emergency management systems the help they deserve.

The keys to a smart city emergency response plan are the combined power of Opticom EVP and Whelen VSG technology.

 A fleet of emergency response fire trucks

How Opticom EVP Works

Opticom EVP can be deployed as a cloud-based solution that gives emergency response teams the green light when they need it most. 

Additionally, agencies may choose to deploy Opticom as a multimodal solution (IR, GPS/Radio, Cloud). For instance, infrared sensors can be strategically placed along emergency routes to detect approaching vehicles, triggering preemptive measures like traffic signal prioritization. 

Combined with GPS and radio-based solutions, Opticom EVP enables seamless communication between emergency vehicles and traffic infrastructure.

Opticom EVP and Whelen VSG: A Dynamic Partnership

In San Rafael, the deployment at the intersections was made easier as Miovision Opticom units are compatible with Vehicle Safety Gateway (VSG) devices by Whelen Engineering. As the largest light bar manufacturer in America, their renowned tech and platform have already done wonders to enhance emergency vehicle visibility. 

The ability to integrate with Whelen VSG to deploy Opticom EVP with intersection infrastructure will revolutionize how Miovision supports first responders in serving their communities. Miovision’s cloud-connected solution provides traffic flow monitoring to mitigate traffic, relaying Signal Phase and Timing (SPaT) data to inform decision-making.

A diagram illustrating the cloud connection between emergency vehicles, Whelen VSG, and Opticom EVP

In taking a collaborative approach, we were able to work together to quickly meet the challenges faced in San Rafael. Let’s break down our approach to seamlessly overhauling their emergency operations in more detail.

Implementation in San Rafael: Deployment Overview

When it came to deployment in San Rafael, the city capitalized on existing Miovision Opticom and Whelen tech to accelerate the process. 

Not needing to invest in new hardware expedited the process and allowed us to deliver results much quicker. Furthermore, we employed a “Priority Control as-a-service (PCaaS)” subscription payment model that allowed the city to benefit from Opticom EVP results while retaining the budgetary bandwidth to spend on other necessary improvements. 

We customized our approach to meet San Rafael’s specific needs, primarily those related to incidents on the 101 Freeway. These incidents often lead to drivers taking alternative routes, which bogs down traffic even more. This makes it more challenging for first responders to reach an accident or fire. We needed to make the freeway and its surrounding networks more reliable and easier to navigate. 

With all this in mind, Opticom EVP and VSG-equipped emergency vehicles communicate over the cloud with connected traffic signals to grant first responders priority on the road. 

Now, let’s look at a smart city emergency response plan in action to see what happens when you create an emergency communication system between vehicles and traffic lights.

Case Study: Results and Success Metrics

Across 56 police/fire vehicles and 53 signalized intersections, Opticom EVP paired with Whelen VSG led to quantifiable improvements in emergency response times and substantial decreases in intersection crash rates. 

This has an extremely positive impact on the safety of emergency responders, as well as the other members of the community. These cloud-based solutions supported San Rafael’s emergency procedures by ensuring its dedicated personnel can get where they’re needed. 

The results and accolades speak for themselves. 

Sergeant Justin Graham of the San Rafael Police Department won the City Innovation Award in May 2022 for the successful deployment of Miovision Opticom x Whelen solutions. Federal funding grants amounting to $1M were also awarded for the project due to its benefits.

Read the Full Case Study Now!

To access this exclusive content and results, simply click here.

A police car navigating traffic in response to an emergency

Benefits of Opticom EVP and Whelen VSG: Empowering Emergency Response Teams

For public safety officials, ITS professionals, and city planners, the benefits of the deployment of Opticom EVP cannot be overstated. Following a similar path to emergency planning as the one we took in San Rafael will lead to: 

  • Improved emergency vehicle preemption for swift and safe passage in high-traffic scenarios.
  • Enhanced visibility for emergency vehicles in challenging conditions, ensuring safer responses.
  • Streamlined coordination and communication among emergency response teams.

These are the kind of forward-thinking, cloud-based solutions you need to support your big-picture efforts to make meaningful changes. Opticom EVP, in improving safety and efficiency for first responders, is at the heart of safer communities. 

If you’re responsible for emergency response planning in your city, we implore you to consider how this tech can better your approach.

Emergency Response Planning With Miovision Opticom

San Rafael came to us with a serious problem: its road networks—especially the 101 Freeway—were congested to an unsafe degree. Rightfully frustrated drivers seeking detours were creating challenges for their emergency services. 

Miovision Opticom delivered the solution. Our cloud-based EVP technology, when paired with Whelen VSG, produced significant improvements. We invite you to explore how this approach can benefit your city and its people. Investing in the right technology is the key to better risk assessment and developing a smart city emergency response plan. 

It’s time to support your emergency response team. Contact us to book a demo