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Microsoft was today granted a patent for accessing data used by the emergency services.

"The present invention provides a method and system for maintaining emergency data in a manner that provides straightforward user access thereto via a displayed emergency page (or set of pages) or other suitable user interface," according to the Patent documentation. "In one embodiment, the operating system or other suitable components maintain a repository of emergency data such that emergency type information can be aggregated and displayed in one place."

"In sum, what is needed is a way to provide users with access to needed emergency information. This should be simple from the user's perspective, so that even very emotional users can find what is needed in a straightforward, yet comprehensive process."

Of the 13 supporting images published by the USPTO, not one shows a very emotional user. But the document does disclose a user interface for at least one preferred implementation.

A UI for Microsoft's emergency services patent - click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

In addition to PDAs, Microsoft suggests that the system could be built into rental cars.

Emergency services already use computer systems - and some of these have gone wrong in spectacular fashion. Up to 20 people died in 1992 as a result of the introduction of a computer system for London ambulances, against union warnings. So prior art abounds. As will bad taste jokes about rebooting.

But the worst bad joke is the patent itself. As silly-patent watcher extraordinaire TheoDP points out it was filed a month after the September 11 attacks in the United States. ®

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