AUSTRALIA'S emergency services are set to launch a long-awaited triple-0 smartphone application to respond more quickly to people in a crisis.
The app, developed by the national Triple Zero Awareness Work Group, which includes police, State Emergency Service, fire and ambulance services, gives clear options for which organisation to call in a crisis, connects the call and provides GPS co-ordinates of the phone's location.
The director of community safety at Fire and Rescue NSW and chairman of the group, Assistant Commissioner Mark Whybro, said the app was designed to cut the number of people calling triple-0 when they needed the SES or Police Assistance Line.
''It improves the time it takes to get help, the right help, to someone who needs it,'' he said.
Figures from Telstra show 9 million people call triple-0 a year, 41 per cent of whom are not connected to state call centres as they are not in an emergency. On average, it took 11 seconds to find out where someone was.
The GPS aspect of the app allows a quicker response. It displays latitude and longitude, a map of the area, and an approximate address, accurate to within 10 metres, which the caller reads out to operators.
The application is fully-developed for iPhones, and the group has applied for $50,000 in federal funding to expand to Android and Windows operating systems. They plan to launch it for free in September or October after thorough testing.
While the application is the first to combine all services in one place, similar safety apps have been developed by child protection charities such as the Daniel Morcombe and Carly Ryan foundations.
A developer, Chris Robinson, said if children were in trouble, the apps took a photo of their location and sent it to a chosen contact by text message and email.