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A student created a program that speeds up and improves 911 service in New York


Alina Prikhodko

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A high school student from Manhattan has developed an artificial intelligence algorithm that will improve the work of 911 services. City residents will be able get help, which they really need. According to New York Post, the algorithm will reduce response times and ultimately save the city millions.

Pierce Wright, a 17-year-old student at Browning School in Manhattan, says his sophisticated model could help emergency dispatchers. For example, it will be able to predict when a caller is experiencing a mental health episode.

“If the algorithm says 'this is a mental health call', you will send a psychiatrist or mental health specialist along with an ambulance. This will help the patient and provide more appropriate care rather than sending police to the scene,” Wright said.

Painstaking work

To develop the algorithm, the guy combined his experience working in emergency medicine with his mastery of data science. For the past year he has been painstakingly coded by AI, and then trained it using nearly two decades of statistical data. Wright compiled a massive online database of New York City containing approximately 24 million emergency calls.

The work paid off, he said, because the model can predict what resources are needed based solely on factors such as the incoming call's zip code, time of day, police station and initial threat level.

On the subject: We asked artificial intelligence what New York would be like in 2050 and 2100: here's what it said

Wright's mother, Melanie, admires her son's talent and the work done to create the model.

“I hoped he would make it,” she said. “It was so exciting to see the moment he had his breakthrough.”

Successful project

The model has an astounding success rate of 94,5% - 2,2% higher than its human counterparts. The student was inspired to create the program by the challenges he faced during his shifts as a volunteer EMT in Westport, Connecticut.

Wright said his program could be used for other types of emergency calls. For example, if the model believes that the victim has been injured, then a paramedic should be sent, not just an EMT.

However, the creator clarified that the program is designed to help dispatchers, and not replace them. One day, he believes, when he makes it more convenient and accessible to ordinary people, this model could save cities millions of dollars and significantly reduce response times.

The project took approximately 200 hours to complete. It has already brought the student several awards, including first place at the TerraNYC STEM Fair at New York University's Tandon School of Engineering and second place at the New York State Science and Engineering Fair in Queens.

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