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Title:
EMERGENCY VEHICLE ALERT AND RESPONSE SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/151937
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A system and methods for alerting an at least one user about the presence of an approaching at least one emergency vehicle are disclosed. In at least one embodiment, upon a one of the at least one emergency vehicle responding to an emergency situation, an emergency state of the emergency vehicle is transmitted to a central computing system, and a notification is transmitted to an at least one user device under the control of the at least one user. Upon a one of the at least one user device receiving the notification, it is determined whether the emergency vehicle is within a pre-defined range of the user device, and whether an ambient noise level exceeds a pre-defined ambient noise threshold. If so, the user device provides the notification to the associated user.

Inventors:
SUAREZ, Jonathan (Emergency Vehicle Alert Systems LLC, 432 E. Los Amigos AveMontebello, California, 90640, US)
Application Number:
US2017/020476
Publication Date:
September 08, 2017
Filing Date:
March 02, 2017
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
EMERGENCY VEHICLE ALERT SYSTEMS LLC (432 E. Los Amigos Ave, Montebello, California, 90640, US)
International Classes:
G08G1/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2014051499A12014-04-03
WO2012097150A12012-07-19
Foreign References:
US20120313792A12012-12-13
US20100033313A12010-02-11
US20040162052A12004-08-19
US20150350416A12015-12-03
US20130136282A12013-05-30
US20150088339A12015-03-26
US5979586A1999-11-09
US20110187559A12011-08-04
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SANDERS, Justin G. et al. (5405 Alton Parkway, Suite 5A 76, Irvine California, 92604, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is: 1 . A method for alerting an at least one user about the presence of an approaching at least one emergency vehicle, the method comprising the steps of:

implementing a central computing system configured for receiving and processing data related to at least one of the at least one user and at least one emergency vehicle; implementing a user application residing in memory on an at least one user device under the control of the at least one user, the at least one user device in selective communication with the computing system;

implementing an emergency vehicle application residing in memory on an at least one emergency vehicle device under the control of an operator of the at least one emergency vehicle, the at least one emergency vehicle device in selective communication with at least one of the computing system and the at least one user device; and

upon a one of the at least one emergency vehicle responding to an emergency situation: transmitting an emergency state of the emergency vehicle to the computing system; transmitting a notification to the at least one user device;

upon a one of the at least one user device receiving the notification:

upon determining that the emergency vehicle is within a pre-defined range of the user device:

upon determining that an ambient noise level exceeds a pre-defined ambient noise threshold:

providing the notification to the associated user via the user device; and upon the emergency vehicle reaching the emergency situation:

transmitting a non-emergency state of the emergency vehicle to the computing system; and

ceasing transmission of the notification to the at least one user device.

2. The method of claim 1 , further comprising the step of implementing an at least one database in communication with the computing system and configured for selectively storing said data related to at least one of the at least one user and at least one emergency vehicle. 3. The method of claim 1 , wherein the step of transmitting an emergency state of the emergency vehicle to the computing system further comprises the step of determining at least one of a type of the emergency vehicle, a current geographic location of the emergency vehicle, a current direction of travel of the emergency vehicle, a current speed of the emergency vehicle, an intended destination of the emergency vehicle, and a planned travel route of the emergency vehicle for reaching the intended destination.

4. The method of claim 1 , wherein the step of transmitting a notification to the at least one user device further comprises the step of transmitting details related to at least one of a type of the emergency vehicle, a current geographic location of the emergency vehicle, a current direction of travel of the emergency vehicle, a current speed of the emergency vehicle, an intended destination of the emergency vehicle, a planned travel route of the emergency vehicle for reaching the intended destination, and possible alternate routes that the associated user may take in order to avoid encountering the emergency vehicle.

5. The method of claim 1 , wherein the step of transmitting a notification to the at least one user device further comprises the step of transmitting the notification to any of the at least one user device located within a pre-defined range of the emergency vehicle.

6. The method of claim 1 , wherein the step of a one of the at least one user device receiving the notification further comprises the step of, upon determining that the user device has been stationary for a pre-defined period of time, ignoring the notification. 7. The method of claim 1 , wherein the step of a one of the at least one user device receiving the notification further comprises the step of determining at least one of a current geographic location of the user device, a current direction of travel of the user device, a current speed of the user device, an intended destination of the user device, and a planned travel route of the user device for reaching the intended destination.

8. The method of claim 1 , wherein the step of a one of the at least one user device receiving the notification further comprises the step of, upon determining that the user device is in communication with a user vehicle capable of autonomous or semi-autonomous operation, temporarily taking control of the user vehicle and automatically causing the user vehicle to take appropriate evasive action.

9. The method of claim 1 , further comprising the step of allowing the ambient noise threshold associated with a one of the at least one user device to be selectively adjusted. 10. The method of claim 9, wherein the step of allowing the ambient noise threshold associated with a one of the at least one user device to be selectively adjusted further comprises the steps of:

determining at least one of a type of the emergency vehicle and a current distance between the user device and the emergency vehicle; determining a typical noise level produced by a siren of such an emergency vehicle at the current distance away from the user device when listening from where the user device is relatively positioned; and

dynamically setting the ambient noise threshold to be equal to or less than the typical noise level of the siren of such an emergency vehicle at the current distance away from the user device when listening from where the user device is relatively positioned.

1 1 . The method of claim 9, wherein the step of allowing the ambient noise threshold associated with a one of the at least one user device to be selectively adjusted further comprises the step of, upon determining that the user device is positioned within a user vehicle, automatically adjusting the ambient noise threshold to account for an amount of noise suppression provided by the user vehicle.

12. The method of claim 1 1 , further comprising the steps of:

determining a type of the user vehicle in which the user device is positioned;

determining a noise suppression level of the user vehicle based on the type of the user vehicle; and

dynamically adjusting the ambient noise threshold based on the noise suppression level.

13. The method of claim 1 , wherein the step of a one of the at least one user device receiving the notification further comprises the step of, upon determining that the user device is currently providing audio through a headphone jack of the user device, factoring a volume of the headphone jack audio into determining whether the ambient noise threshold has been exceeded.

14. The method of claim 1 , further comprising the steps of:

allowing the user associated with a one of the at least one user device to selectively configure an impairment value associated with any hearing loss or impairment from which the user suffers; and

adjusting the ambient noise threshold based on the impairment value.

15. The method of claim 1 , further comprising the step of implementing a unique user account associated with each of the at least one user.

16. The method of claim 15, further comprising the step of allowing the at least one user to create, store and manage a plurality of ambient noise profiles to be associated with the unique user account, each ambient noise profile having at least one of an appropriate ambient noise threshold and pre-defined range to accommodate a particular environmental scenario in which the user may typically find themselves.

17. The method of claim 1 , further comprising the step of implementing a unique emergency vehicle account associated with each of the at least one emergency vehicle.

18. A method for alerting an at least one user about the presence of an approaching at least one emergency vehicle, the method comprising the steps of:

implementing a central computing system configured for receiving and processing data related to at least one of the at least one user and at least one emergency vehicle; implementing a user application residing in memory on an at least one user device under the control of the at least one user, the at least one user device in selective communication with the computing system;

implementing an emergency vehicle application residing in memory on an at least one emergency vehicle device under the control of an operator of the at least one emergency vehicle, the at least one emergency vehicle device in selective communication with at least one of the computing system and the at least one user device; and

upon a one of the at least one emergency vehicle responding to an emergency situation: transmitting an emergency state of the emergency vehicle to the computing system; transmitting a notification to the at least one user device;

upon a one of the at least one user device receiving the notification:

upon determining that the emergency vehicle is within a pre-defined range of the user device:

upon determining that an ambient noise level exceeds a pre-defined ambient noise threshold:

providing the notification to the associated user via the user device; and upon determining that the user device is in communication with a user vehicle capable of autonomous or semi-autonomous operation:

temporarily taking control of the user vehicle and automatically causing the user vehicle to take appropriate evasive action; and

upon the emergency vehicle reaching the emergency situation:

transmitting a non-emergency state of the emergency vehicle to the computing system; and

ceasing transmission of the notification to the at least one user device.

19. An emergency vehicle alert and response system for alerting an at least one user about the presence of an approaching at least one emergency vehicle, the system comprising: a central computing system configured for receiving and processing data related to at least one of the at least one user and at least one emergency vehicle;

an at least one user device under the control of the at least one user and in selective communication with the computing system, the at least one user device providing a user application residing in memory thereon; and

an at least one emergency vehicle device under the control of an operator of the at least one emergency vehicle and in selective communication with at least one of the computing system and the at least one user device, the at least one emergency vehicle device providing an emergency vehicle application residing in memory thereon;

wherein, upon a one of the at least one emergency vehicle responding to an emergency situation, the system is configured for:

transmitting an emergency state of the emergency vehicle to the computing system; transmitting a notification to the at least one user device;

upon a one of the at least one user device receiving the notification:

upon determining that the emergency vehicle is within a pre-defined range of the user device:

upon determining that an ambient noise level exceeds a pre-defined ambient noise threshold:

providing the notification to the associated user via the user device; and upon the emergency vehicle reaching the emergency situation:

transmitting a non-emergency state of the emergency vehicle to the computing system; and

ceasing transmission of the notification to the at least one user device. 20. The emergency vehicle alert and response system of claim 19, wherein the at least one user device is in selective communication with an onboard computing system of an at least one user vehicle.

Description:
EMERGENCY VEHICLE ALERT AND RESPONSE SYSTEM

RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001 ] This application claims priority and is entitled to the filing date of U.S. provisional application serial number 62/304,028, filed on March 4, 2016. The contents of the aforementioned application(s) is/are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND

[0002] The subject of this provisional patent application relates generally to alert systems, and more particularly to an emergency vehicle alert and response system configured for alerting individuals and other vehicles about the presence of an approaching emergency vehicle.

[0003] Applicant(s) hereby incorporate herein by reference any and all patents and published patent applications cited or referred to in this application.

[0004] By way of background, emergency vehicles - such as fire trucks, law enforcement cars, law enforcement motorcycles, military vehicles, ambulances and rescue vehicles - are often permitted by law, when responding to an emergency situation, to break conventional road rules in order to reach their destinations as quickly as possible, including driving through intersections when traffic lights are red and exceeding posted speed limits. To help reduce the risk of potential collisions with pedestrians and other vehicles, emergency vehicles are typically fitted with audible and/or visual warning devices - such as sirens and flashing lights - designed to alert the surrounding area of the emergency vehicle's presence. However, these warning devices are not always effective at alerting everyone.

[0005] For example, depending on the relative location/position of a given pedestrian or vehicle, the flashing lights of an emergency vehicle may be obscured by other, taller vehicles, or even buildings or other environmental obstacles, such that the flashing lights would not be visible in time to provide a sufficient warning period. Furthermore, people who suffer from hearing loss or impairment may not be able to hear the siren of an emergency vehicle in time to provide a sufficient warning period. Additionally, even people with no hearing issues may nevertheless be unable to hear the siren if the ambient noise level of their immediate environment is relatively louder than the siren of the approaching emergency vehicle. For example, if a person is a driver or passenger of a vehicle that is playing music at a relatively

l high volume, or the vehicle is otherwise relatively well-insulated from exterior sounds, that person may not hear the siren of an approaching emergency vehicle. Similarly, if a person is walking along the side of a roadway but is listening to music on their electronic device via headphones, that person may not hear the siren of an approaching emergency vehicle either, if the music volume is relatively louder than the siren.

[0006] Relatedly, with respect to drivers of vehicles, depending on how quickly a given driver realizes the imminent presence of an emergency vehicle, they may not have sufficient time to react accordingly - typically, pulling their vehicle to the side of the road in order to clear a path for the emergency vehicle to pass. Additionally, even if afforded a sufficient amount of time to react, some drivers may panic and forget, or otherwise fail, to take the appropriate action in time.

[0007] Therefore, there remains a need for an emergency vehicle alert and response system capable of alerting individuals and other vehicles about the presence of an approaching emergency vehicle and, in at least one embodiment, automatically assisting other vehicles with taking appropriate evasive actions. Aspects of the present invention fulfill these needs and provide further related advantages as described in the following summary. SUMMARY

[0008] Aspects of the present invention teach certain benefits in construction and use which give rise to the exemplary advantages described below. [0009] The present invention solves the problems described above by providing an emergency vehicle alert and response system. In at least one embodiment, a central computing system is configured for receiving and processing data related to at least one of the at least one user and at least one emergency vehicle. An at least one user device under the control of the at least one user is in selective communication with the computing system and provides a user application residing in memory thereon. An at least one emergency vehicle device under the control of an operator of the at least one emergency vehicle is in selective communication with at least one of the computing system and the at least one user device, and provides an emergency vehicle application residing in memory thereon. Upon a one of the at least one emergency vehicle responding to an emergency situation, an emergency state of the emergency vehicle is transmitted to the computing system, and a notification is transmitted to the at least one user device. Upon a one of the at least one user device receiving the notification, it is determined whether the emergency vehicle is within a pre-defined range of the user device. It is also determined whether an ambient noise level exceeds a pre-defined ambient noise threshold. If so, the user device provides the notification to the associated user. Otherwise, the notification is ignored. Upon the emergency vehicle reaching the emergency situation, a non-emergency state of the emergency vehicle is transmitted to the computing system, and the transmission of the notification to the at least one user device ceases

[0010] Other features and advantages of aspects of the present invention will become apparent from the following more detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of aspects of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[001 1 ] The accompanying drawings illustrate aspects of the present invention. In such drawings:

[0012] Figure 1 is a simplified schematic view of an exemplary emergency vehicle alert and response system, in accordance with at least one embodiment;

[0013] Figures 2 and 3 are diagram views thereof, in accordance with at least one embodiment; and

[0014] Figures 4-6 are flow diagrams illustrating various aspects of exemplary methods for alerting individuals and other vehicles about the presence of an approaching emergency vehicle, in accordance with at least one embodiment.

[0015] The above described drawing figures illustrate aspects of the invention in at least one of its exemplary embodiments, which are further defined in detail in the following description. Features, elements, and aspects of the invention that are referenced by the same numerals in different figures represent the same, equivalent, or similar features, elements, or aspects, in accordance with one or more embodiments.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0016] Turning now to Fig. 1 , there is shown a simplified schematic view of an exemplary emergency vehicle alert and response system 20. In at least one embodiment, the system 20 provides a central computing system 22, an at least one user device 24 associated with an at least one user 26 (Fig. 3) and/or user vehicle 28, and an at least one emergency vehicle device 30 associated with an at least one emergency vehicle 32. As discussed further below, in at least one embodiment, the computing system 22 is in selective communication with each of the at least one user device 24 and at least one emergency vehicle device 30, with the computing system 22 being configured for receiving and processing data related to at least one of the at least one user 26 (and/or user vehicle 28) and at least one emergency vehicle 32. Additionally, in at least one embodiment, the at least one user device 24 is also in selective communication with the at least one emergency vehicle device 30. Additionally, in at least one embodiment, an at least one database 34 is in communication with the computing system 22 and configured for selectively storing said data related to at least one of the at least one user 26 (and/or user vehicle 28) and at least one emergency vehicle 32. In at least one embodiment, the computing system 22 and database 34 are one and the same - as such, it is intended that those terms as used herein are to be interchangeable with one another. In at least one embodiment, the computing system 22 and database 34 are omitted, such that the system 20 and associated methods described herein are implemented solely through the at least one user device 24 and the at least one emergency vehicle device 30 - thus, any methods or functionality described herein as being carried out by the computing system 22 or database 34 may, in at least one embodiment, also be carried out by the at least one user device 24 and/or the at least one emergency vehicle device 30, regardless of whether such embodiments nevertheless incorporate the computing system 22 and/or database 34.

[0017] At the outset, it should be noted that communication between each of the computing system 22, at least one user device 24, at least one emergency vehicle device 30, and at least one database 34 may be achieved using any wired- or wireless-based communication protocol (or combination of protocols) now known or later developed. As such, the present invention should not be read as being limited to any one particular type of communication protocol, even though certain exemplary protocols may be mentioned herein for illustrative purposes. It should also be noted that the terms "user device" and "emergency vehicle device" are intended to include any type of computing or electronic device now known or later developed, such as desktop computers, mobile phones, smartphones, laptop computers, tablet computers, personal data assistants, gaming devices, etc. In at least one embodiment, as discussed further below, the at least one user device 24 is not a standalone computing or electronic device, but is instead integrated into an onboard computing system of a user vehicle 28 - either incorporating additional hardware components, or being installed on the onboard computing system as software, or as some combination of hardware and software, to achieve the functionality described herein. Similarly, in at least one embodiment, as also discussed further below, the at least one emergency vehicle device 30 is not a standalone computing or electronic device, but is instead integrated into an onboard computing system of an emergency vehicle - either incorporating additional hardware components, or being installed on the onboard computing system as software, or as some combination of hardware and software, to achieve the functionality described herein. It should also be noted that, in at least one embodiment, the term "emergency vehicle" is intended to generally include any type of ground- based vehicle that may be used by appropriate personnel to reach an emergency situation - such vehicles including but not limited to fire trucks, law enforcement cars, law enforcement motorcycles, military vehicles, ambulances and rescue vehicles. Similarly, it should also be noted that the term "mobile device" is intended to include any type of computing or electronic device now known or later developed - such as mobile phones, smartphones, laptop computers, tablet computers, personal data assistants, gaming devices, etc. - capable of being used in a mobile fashion. As such, the present invention should not be read as being limited to use with any one particular type of computing or electronic device, even though certain exemplary devices may be mentioned or shown herein for illustrative purposes.

[0018] With continued reference to Fig. 1 , in the exemplary embodiment, each of the computing system 22, at least one user device 24, at least one emergency vehicle device 30, and at least one database 34 contains the hardware and software necessary to carry out the exemplary methods for alerting individuals and other vehicles about the presence of an approaching emergency vehicle 32, as described herein. Furthermore, in at least one embodiment, the computing system 22 comprises a plurality of computing devices selectively working in concert with one another to carry out the exemplary methods for alerting individuals and other vehicles about the presence of an approaching emergency vehicle 32, as described herein. In at least one embodiment, the at least one user device 24 provides a user application 36 residing locally in memory 38 on the user device 24, the user application 36 being configured for selectively communicating with at least one of the computing system 22 and the at least one emergency vehicle device 30, as discussed further below. Similarly, in at least one embodiment, the at least one emergency vehicle device 30 provides an emergency vehicle application 40 residing locally in memory 42 on the emergency vehicle device 30, the emergency vehicle application 40 being configured for selectively communicating with at least one of the computing system 22 and the at least one user device 24, as discussed further below. Accordingly, then, in at least one embodiment, each of the at least one user device 24 is in the possession of a user 26 who is desirous of being alerted about the presence of an approaching emergency vehicle 32, and each of the at least one emergency vehicle device 30 is in the possession (or at least under the control) of an operator of an emergency vehicle 32 who is desirous of alerting the at least one user 26 and/or associated user vehicle 28 about the presence of the approaching emergency vehicle 32. It should be noted that, in at least one embodiment, the at least one emergency vehicle device 30 is capable of also functioning as a user device 24 where, for example, the operator of the associated emergency vehicle 32 is desirous of being alerted about the presence of other emergency vehicles 32. It should also be noted that the term "memory" is intended to include any type of electronic storage medium (or combination of storage mediums) now known or later developed, such as local hard drives, RAM, flash memory, secure digital ("SD") cards, external storage devices, network or cloud storage devices, integrated circuits, etc.

[0019] Furthermore, the various components of one or more of the at least one user device 24 and emergency vehicle device 30 may reside on a single computing and/or electronic device, or may separately reside on two or more computing and/or electronic devices in communication with one another. In at least one embodiment, the functionality provided by one or both of the user application 36 and emergency vehicle application 40 resides remotely in memory on the computing system 22 and/or database 34, with each user device 24 and/or emergency vehicle device 30 capable of accessing said functionality via an online portal hosted by the computing system 22 and/or database 34, either in addition to or in lieu of the respective user application 36 and emergency vehicle application 40 residing locally in memory 38 and 42 on the at least one user device 24 and emergency vehicle device 30, respectively. It should be noted that, for simplicity purposes, the functionality provided by each of the respective user application 36 and emergency vehicle application 40 will be described herein as such - even though certain embodiments may combine said functionality into a single universal application and/or provide said functionality through an online portal. It should also be noted that, for simplicity purposes, when discussing functionality and the various methods that may be carried out by the system 20 herein, the terms "user device" 24 and "user application" 36 are intended to be interchangeable, and the terms "emergency vehicle device" 30 and "emergency vehicle application" 40 are also intended to be interchangeable.

[0020] With continued reference to Fig. 1 , in at least one embodiment, each of the at least one user device 24 and emergency vehicle device 30 provides an at least one display screen 44 and 46 for providing an at least one graphical user interface to assist the respective user 26 and emergency vehicle 32 operator in possession of each said device 24 and 30 to utilize the various functions provided by the system 20. In at least one such embodiment, the at least one display screen 44 and 46 is a touchscreen. Additionally, in at least one embodiment, each of the at least one user device 24 and emergency vehicle device 30 provides an at least one global positioning system ("GPS") chip 48 and 50 for assisting in providing the computing system 22 with at least one of a geographic location, a direction of travel, and a current speed of each of the at least one user device 24 and emergency vehicle device 30. Furthermore, in at least one embodiment, as discussed further below, the at least one user device 24 provides an at least one speaker 52 and microphone 54.

[0021 ] In at least one embodiment, the at least one user device 24 is in selective communication with the onboard computing system of an at least one user vehicle 28 (i.e. , a vehicle in which the associated user 26 is currently a driver or passenger) - either via a wired or wireless communication protocol or, alternatively, by directly integrating the user device 24 into the onboard computing system of the user vehicle 24 - the purpose for which is discussed further below. [0022] As discussed in detail below, the system 20 may be utilized in a variety of contexts. In each such context, as illustrated in the diagrams of Figs. 2 and 3, the at least one emergency vehicle device 30 associated with a given emergency vehicle 32 is used to ultimately transmit a notification to the at least one user device 24, should (1) a status of the emergency vehicle 32 be one of an emergency state - i.e., responding to an emergency situation, oftentimes using audible and/or visual warning devices - and (2) the emergency vehicle 32 be physically located within a pre-defined range R of the at least one user device 24. Again, in at least one embodiment, the at least one user device 24 could be carried by the user 26 as the user 26 is sitting in the user vehicle 28 (Fig. 2) or walking as a pedestrian (Fig. 3), or the user device 24 could be in communication or otherwise integrated with the user vehicle 28 (Fig. 2). It should be noted that the below described applications of the system 20 are merely exemplary and are being provided herein for illustrative purposes. As such, the system 20 and associated methods described herein should not be read as being so limited, but instead can be utilized in any context, now known or later conceived, where there is a need for alerting individuals and/or other vehicles about the presence of an approaching emergency vehicle 32.

[0023] In at least one embodiment, as illustrated in the flow diagram of Fig. 4, through the emergency vehicle application 40 residing either locally in memory 42 on the emergency vehicle device 30 or remotely on the computing system 22 and/or database 34, upon an operator of the emergency vehicle 32 accessing the emergency vehicle application 40, the computing system 22 first determines whether the associated emergency vehicle 32 is new to the system 20 (402). If the associated emergency vehicle 32 is new, the operator is required to properly register a new emergency vehicle account with the computing system 22 via the emergency vehicle device 30 (404) - or, alternatively, via any other computing or electronic device capable of communicating with the computing system 22. Once the emergency vehicle 32 has been registered with the computing system 22, and upon the operator of the emergency vehicle 32 needing to respond to an emergency situation (406), the emergency vehicle device 30 notifies the computing system 22 of the current emergency state of the emergency vehicle 32 (408). In at least one embodiment, where the emergency vehicle device 30 is in communication or otherwise integrated with the emergency vehicle 32, the emergency vehicle device 30 automatically notifies the computing system 22 upon at least one of the warning devices of the emergency vehicle 32 (such as the lights and/or siren of the emergency vehicle 32, for example) being activated. In at least one alternate embodiment, the emergency vehicle device 30 notifies the computing system 22 upon the operator of the emergency vehicle 32 manually instructing the emergency vehicle device 30 to do so - such as touching an appropriate button on the GUI provided by the at least one display screen 46 of the emergency vehicle device 30, for example. In at least one embodiment, the computing system 22 determines the geographic location and the direction of travel of the emergency vehicle 32 (410) based on the data provided by the GPS chip 50 of the emergency vehicle device 30. The computing system 22 then transmits a notification to any of the at least one user device 24 that is, or will be, located within the pre-defined range R of the emergency vehicle 32 (412). [0024] In a bit more detail, in at least one embodiment, the computing system 22 determines the geographic location and direction of travel of the at least one user device 24, based on the data provided by the GPS chip 48 of the at least one user device 24, and only transmits the notification to any of the at least one user device 24 that is, or will be, located within the predefined range R of the emergency vehicle 32. In at least one alternate embodiment, the computing system 22 transmits the notification to all of the at least one user device 24. As illustrated in the flow diagram of Fig. 5, upon a given user device 24 receiving the notification (516), the user device 24 independently determines whether the emergency vehicle 32 is within the pre-defined range R of the user device 24 (518). In other words, this range/proximity determination may be performed by either the computing system 22 (in at least one embodiment) or each of the at least one user device 24 (in at least one other embodiment). If a given user device 24 determines that the emergency vehicle 32 is within the pre-defined range R of the user device 24 (518), then the user device 24 will potentially relay the notification to the associated user, as discussed further below. Otherwise, if the user device 24 determines that the emergency vehicle 32 is not within the pre-defined range R of the user device 24, then the user device 24 will ignore the notification (520). In at least one embodiment, in addition to determining the geographic location and direction of travel of the emergency vehicle 32, the computing system 22 also receives at least one of a type of emergency vehicle 32 (i.e., fire truck, law enforcement car, law enforcement motorcycle, military vehicle, ambulance, etc.), an intended destination of the emergency vehicle 32 (i.e., the geographic location to which the emergency vehicle 32 is responding), a planned travel route of the emergency vehicle 32 for reaching the intended destination (where, for example, the emergency vehicle device 30 provides or is otherwise in communication with a navigation system), and a current speed of the emergency vehicle 32. With this information, in at least one embodiment, the computing system 22 is also able to determine which of the at least one user device 24 will potentially come within the pre-defined range R of the emergency vehicle 32 at some point during the emergency vehicle's 32 travel route, and transmit a notification to such user devices 24 accordingly. Similarly, in at least one embodiment, in addition to determining the geographic location and direction of travel of the at least one user device 24, the computing system 22 also receives at least one of an intended destination of each user device 24, a planned travel route of each user device 24 for reaching the intended destination (where, for example, the user device 24 provides or is otherwise in communication with a navigation system), and a current speed of each user device 24, so as to further assist in determining whether a given user device 24 will potentially come within the pre-defined range R of the emergency vehicle 32 at some point during the emergency vehicle's 32 travel route.

[0025] In at least one embodiment, the notification that is transmitted to the appropriate at least one user device 24, and ultimately provided to the associated user 26 of each such user device 24, consists of an audible (via the at least one speaker 52 of the user device 24) and/or visual (via the at least one display screen 44 of the user device 24) notification - either simply providing a general warning that the emergency vehicle 32 is within the pre-defined range R of the user device 24, or providing additional details including but not limited to the type of emergency vehicle 32, the specific location of the emergency vehicle 32, the direction of travel of the emergency vehicle 32 (including whether the emergency vehicle 32 will be approaching the user device 24 from behind, or from the opposite direction, or passing through a cross- street intersection, etc.) , the speed of the emergency vehicle 32, the intended destination of the emergency vehicle 32, etc. In at least one embodiment, where the notification includes a visual notification, the visual notification may include a map via the at least one display screen 44 of the user device 24, with each of the user device 24 location and emergency vehicle 32 location being displayed on the map. In at least one embodiment, where the user device 24 is positioned within or otherwise integrated with the user vehicle 28, the notification may also instruct the associated user 26 to prepare to slow down and pull the user vehicle 28 to the side of the road so as to yield the right-of-way to the approaching emergency vehicle 32. In at least one embodiment, the notification may also provide guidance on possible alternate routes that the associated user 26 may take in order to avoid encountering the emergency vehicle 32. In at least one embodiment, as discussed further below, the associated user 26 of each of the at least one user device 24 may selectively configure (i.e. , customize) at least one of the format of the notifications, the content of the notifications, and the pre-defined range R that a given emergency vehicle 32 must be within (relative to the user device 24) before an appropriate notification is provided to the associated user 26. It should be noted that the calculations used to provide the details of such notifications may be performed entirely by the computing system 22, entirely by the at least one user device 24, or performed in part by each of the computing system 22 and the at least one user device 24. [0026] In at least one embodiment, where a given user device 24 is in communication or otherwise integrated with a user vehicle 28 that is capable of autonomous or semi-autonomous operation (534), upon the user device 24 receiving a notification regarding an approaching emergency vehicle 32 within the pre-defined range R (518), the user device 24 is configured for temporarily taking control of the user vehicle 28 and automatically causing the user vehicle 28 to take appropriate evasive action (536) - for example, by causing the user vehicle 28 to reduce its speed and/or pull to the side of the road so as to yield the right-of-way to the approaching emergency vehicle 32. [0027] In at least one embodiment, once the emergency vehicle 32 is no longer within the pre-defined range R of a given user device 24, the user device 24 will cease to provide the appropriate notification. Additionally, referring again to Fig. 4, in at least one embodiment, once the emergency vehicle 32 reaches its destination (414), such that the status of the emergency vehicle 32 switches to a non-emergency state, the emergency vehicle device 30 once again notifies the computing system 22 accordingly (416), such that all notifications being transmitted to the appropriate at least one user device 24 will cease. In at least one embodiment, where the emergency vehicle device 30 is in communication or otherwise integrated with the emergency vehicle 32, the emergency vehicle device 30 automatically notifies the computing system 22 upon the warning devices of the emergency vehicle 32 being deactivated. In at least one alternate embodiment, the emergency vehicle device 30 notifies the computing system 22 upon the operator of the emergency vehicle 32 manually instructing the emergency vehicle device 30 to do so - such as touching an appropriate button on the GUI provided by the at least one display screen 46 of the emergency vehicle device 30, for example. [0028] As mentioned above, in at least one embodiment, the associated user 26 of each of the at least one user device 24 may selectively configure (i.e., customize) at least one of the format of the notifications, the content of the notifications, and the pre-defined range R that a given emergency vehicle 32 must be within (relative to the user device 24) before an appropriate notification is provided to the associated user 26. In at least one such embodiment, as illustrated in the flow diagram of Fig. 5, through the user application 36 residing either locally in memory 38 on the user device 24 or remotely on the computing system 22 and/or database 34, upon the associated user 26 accessing the user application 36, the computing system 22 first determines whether the associated user 26 is new to the system 20 (502). If the associated user 26 is new, the user 26 is required to properly register a new user account with the computing system 22 via the user device 24 (504) - or, alternatively, via any other computing or electronic device capable of communicating with the computing system 22. In at least one embodiment, once the user 26 has been registered with the computing system 22, the user 26 is able to selectively configure at least one of the format of the notifications (i.e., whether the notifications should be presented audibly, visually, or a combination of the two), the content of the notifications (i.e., how much detail to include in the notifications related to approaching emergency vehicles 32), and the pre-defined range R that a given emergency vehicle 32 must be within before an appropriate notification is provided to the associated user 26 (i.e. , 100 yards, 500 yards, 1 mile, etc.). Each of these configurations are stored by the system 20 in connection with the associated user account.

[0029] In at least one embodiment, the associated user 26 of each of the at least one user device 24 is also able to selectively configure an ambient noise threshold, such that a given notification will only be provided by the user device 24 if the ambient noise of the surrounding environment (as detected using the at least one microphone 54 of the user device 24, for example) exceeds the established ambient noise threshold. In other words, the associated user 26 is able to selectively configure the user device 24 to only provide notifications when the ambient noise of the surrounding environment is too loud to otherwise hear the siren of an approaching emergency vehicle 32. Thus, where the ambient noise of the surrounding environment is not so loud, the user 26 is able to rely upon hearing the actual siren of the approaching emergency vehicle 32 rather than requiring a notification from the user device 24 (though, a given user 26 may nevertheless desire to also receive the notifications from the user device 24 and so may set or completely disable the ambient noise threshold accordingly).

[0030] In at least one embodiment, the user 26 is able to selectively adjust the ambient noise threshold manually. In this way, the user 26 is able to account for any hearing loss or impairment from which the user 26 may suffer, and manually adjust (i.e., lower) the ambient noise threshold accordingly. In at least one such embodiment, the associated user 26 of the at least one user device 24 is able to selectively configure a separate impairment value, which the user device 24 may then automatically apply to any ambient noise threshold settings to account for the user's 26 hearing loss or impairment, as discussed below.

[0031 ] In at least one further embodiment, the user device 24 is capable of automatically and dynamically determining an appropriate ambient noise threshold upon a given user device 24 receiving a notification regarding an approaching emergency vehicle 32 within the pre-defined range R (518). In at least one such embodiment, as illustrated in the flow diagram of Fig. 6, the user device 24 first obtains - from the computing system 22, in at least one embodiment - the type of emergency vehicle 32 that is approaching (602) and the current distance between the user device 24 and the emergency vehicle 32 (604). Using this information, the user device 24 determines the typical noise level produced by a siren of such an emergency vehicle 32 at the particular distance away from the user device 24 (606). For example, if the emergency vehicle 32 is a fire truck and is approximately 500 yards away from the user device 24, the user device 24 would determine how loud such a siren would be when listening from where the user device 24 is relatively positioned. In one such embodiment, these noise level details are contained in the database 34 and maintained by the computing system 22. In at least one embodiment, the various typical siren noise levels contained in the database 34 are organized based on a number of factors, including but not limited to the type of emergency vehicle 32, the distance of the emergency vehicle 32 from the given user device 24, and the particular geographic location of the user device 24 and emergency vehicle 32 (for example, a siren noise level from a given distance may be louder in a relatively rural area than in a relatively more densely populated area from the same distance). The user device 24 then dynamically sets the ambient noise threshold to be equal to or less than the typical noise level of the siren (608). In this way, if the ambient noise level is higher than the typical noise level of the siren, the user device 24 will provide the appropriate notification to the associated user 26. It should be noted that, in further embodiments, any other method for adjusting the ambient noise threshold (either manually or automatically) - now known or later developed - may be substituted.

[0032] In at least one embodiment, where the user device 24 provides a headphone jack 56 (Fig. 1), such that the associated user 26 is able to listen to audible media (such as music, for example) via headphones through the user device 24 (524), upon receiving a notification regarding an approaching emergency vehicle 32 within the pre-defined range R (518) and determining the ambient noise level (522), the user device 24 takes into account the volume of audio being provided through the headphone jack 56 (526) when determining whether the ambient noise threshold has been exceeded (528).

[0033] Additionally, in at least one embodiment, where the user device 24 is positioned within the user vehicle 28 (508), the user device 24 automatically adjusts (i.e., lowers) the ambient noise threshold to account for the amount of noise suppression (by virtue of physical insulation materials and/or noise cancellation technology) provided by the user vehicle 28 (510). In other words, the relatively greater the amount of suppression that might be provided by the user vehicle 28, the more difficult it may become to hear the siren of an approaching emergency vehicle 32 - especially when also factoring in the ambient noise that might be generated by the environment surrounding the user vehicle 28, along with any audio that might be produced within the user vehicle 28 (such as by the speakers of the user vehicle 28 or passengers within the user vehicle 28). In at least one such embodiment, the user 26 is able to manually specify the type (i.e., year, make and model) of user vehicle 28 in which the user device 24 is currently positioned. In one at least one such embodiment, these noise suppression level details are contained in the database 34 and maintained by the computing system 22. Using this information, the user device 24 is capable of automatically determining a noise suppression level of the user vehicle 24 and dynamically adjusting the ambient noise threshold to account for the noise suppression level. It should be noted that, in further embodiments, any other method for determining the noise suppression level and adjusting the ambient noise threshold accordingly (either manually or automatically) - now known or later developed - may be substituted.

[0034] As mentioned above, in at least one embodiment, if the associated user 26 has established an impairment value, any of these ambient noise thresholds discussed herein may be automatically adjusted by the user device 24 based on that impairment value, in order to better account for the user's 26 hearing loss or impairment.

[0035] In at least one embodiment, the computing system 22 allows the user 26 to create, store and manage a plurality of ambient noise profiles as part of the associated user account, with each such ambient noise profile related to different environmental scenarios in which the user 26 may typically find themselves, and so each having a particular ambient noise threshold tailored for each such environmental scenario. For example, if the user 26 tends to drive and/or ride in more than one type of user vehicle 28 (with each such user vehicle 28 having a different noise suppression level), the user 26 may create a separate ambient noise profile for each such user vehicle 28 and manually select the appropriate profile as needed. The user 26 may also have a separate ambient noise profile for when the user 26 is a pedestrian. Additionally, each ambient noise profile may also have a different range R - for example, an ambient noise profile for use when the user 26 is a pedestrian may not require as large of a range R as an ambient noise profile for when the user 26 is in a user vehicle 28.

[0036] In at least one embodiment, the at least one user device 24 provides the associated user 26 with the ability to acknowledge and selectively dismiss a given notification - for example, by providing a button via the GUI on the at least one display screen 44 that may be touched by the user 26 after the notification begins.

[0037] In at least one embodiment, the at least one user device 24 is configured for only providing notifications when the user device 24 is in motion (530), based on the data provided by the GPS chip 48 of the at least one user device 24 - which would indicate that the associated user 26 is either walking or riding in the user vehicle 28. If the user device 24 is stationary for a pre-defined period of time - which would indicate that the associated user 26 is also stationary and, thus, not likely to encounter an emergency vehicle 32 - the user device 24 does not provide any notifications that it may receive. In at least one such embodiment, the pre-defined period of time is relatively greater than the amount of time the user 24 or user vehicle 28 would typically spend stopped at a stop light or in traffic - such as five minutes, for example. [0038] Aspects of the present specification may also be described as follows:

[0039] 1 . A method for alerting an at least one user about the presence of an approaching at least one emergency vehicle, the method comprising the steps of: implementing a central computing system configured for receiving and processing data related to at least one of the at least one user and at least one emergency vehicle; implementing a user application residing in memory on an at least one user device under the control of the at least one user, the at least one user device in selective communication with the computing system; implementing an emergency vehicle application residing in memory on an at least one emergency vehicle device under the control of an operator of the at least one emergency vehicle, the at least one emergency vehicle device in selective communication with at least one of the computing system and the at least one user device; and upon a one of the at least one emergency vehicle responding to an emergency situation: transmitting an emergency state of the emergency vehicle to the computing system; transmitting a notification to the at least one user device; upon a one of the at least one user device receiving the notification: upon determining that the emergency vehicle is within a pre-defined range of the user device: upon determining that an ambient noise level exceeds a pre-defined ambient noise threshold: providing the notification to the associated user via the user device; and upon the emergency vehicle reaching the emergency situation: transmitting a non-emergency state of the emergency vehicle to the computing system; and ceasing transmission of the notification to the at least one user device.

[0040] 2. The method according to embodiment 1 , further comprising the step of implementing an at least one database in communication with the computing system and configured for selectively storing said data related to at least one of the at least one user and at least one emergency vehicle.

[0041 ] 3. The method according to embodiments 1 -2, wherein the step of transmitting an emergency state of the emergency vehicle to the computing system further comprises the step of determining at least one of a type of the emergency vehicle, a current geographic location of the emergency vehicle, a current direction of travel of the emergency vehicle, a current speed of the emergency vehicle, an intended destination of the emergency vehicle, and a planned travel route of the emergency vehicle for reaching the intended destination. [0042] 4. The method according to embodiments 1 -3, wherein the step of transmitting a notification to the at least one user device further comprises the step of transmitting details related to at least one of a type of the emergency vehicle, a current geographic location of the emergency vehicle, a current direction of travel of the emergency vehicle, a current speed of the emergency vehicle, an intended destination of the emergency vehicle, a planned travel route of the emergency vehicle for reaching the intended destination, and possible alternate routes that the associated user may take in order to avoid encountering the emergency vehicle.

[0043] 5. The method according to embodiments 1 -4, wherein the step of transmitting a notification to the at least one user device further comprises the step of displaying a map on an at least one display screen of the user device, with each of a geographic location of the user device and a geographic location of the emergency vehicle identified on the map.

[0044] 6. The method according to embodiments 1 -5, wherein the step of transmitting a notification to the at least one user device further comprises the step of transmitting the notification to any of the at least one user device located within a pre-defined range of the emergency vehicle.

[0045] 7. The method according to embodiments 1 -6, wherein the step of a one of the at least one user device receiving the notification further comprises the step of, upon determining that the emergency vehicle is not within the pre-defined range of the user device, ignoring the notification.

[0046] 8. The method according to embodiments 1 -7, wherein the step of a one of the at least one user device receiving the notification further comprises the step of, upon determining that the ambient noise level does not exceed the pre-defined ambient noise threshold, ignoring the notification.

[0047] 9. The method according to embodiments 1 -8, wherein the step of a one of the at least one user device receiving the notification further comprises the step of, upon determining that the user device has been stationary for a pre-defined period of time, ignoring the notification.

[0048] 10. The method according to embodiments 1 -9, wherein the step of a one of the at least one user device receiving the notification further comprises the step of determining at least one of a current geographic location of the user device, a current direction of travel of the user device, a current speed of the user device, an intended destination of the user device, and a planned travel route of the user device for reaching the intended destination. [0049] 1 1 . The method according to embodiments 1 -10, wherein the step of a one of the at least one user device receiving the notification further comprises the step of, upon determining that the user device is in communication with a user vehicle capable of autonomous or semi- autonomous operation, temporarily taking control of the user vehicle and automatically causing the user vehicle to take appropriate evasive action. [0050] 12. The method according to embodiments 1 -1 1 , further comprising the step of allowing the ambient noise threshold associated with a one of the at least one user device to be selectively adjusted. [0051 ] 13. The method according to embodiments 1 -12, wherein the step of allowing the ambient noise threshold associated with a one of the at least one user device to be selectively adjusted further comprises the step of allowing the user associated with the user device to manually adjust the ambient noise threshold. [0052] 14. The method according to embodiments 1 -13, wherein the step of allowing the ambient noise threshold associated with a one of the at least one user device to be selectively adjusted further comprises the steps of: determining at least one of a type of the emergency vehicle and a current distance between the user device and the emergency vehicle; determining a typical noise level produced by a siren of such an emergency vehicle at the current distance away from the user device when listening from where the user device is relatively positioned; and dynamically setting the ambient noise threshold to be equal to or less than the typical noise level of the siren of such an emergency vehicle at the current distance away from the user device when listening from where the user device is relatively positioned. [0053] 15. The method according to embodiments 1 -14, wherein the step of allowing the ambient noise threshold associated with a one of the at least one user device to be selectively adjusted further comprises the step of, upon determining that the user device is positioned within a user vehicle, automatically adjusting the ambient noise threshold to account for an amount of noise suppression provided by the user vehicle.

[0054] 16. The method according to embodiments 1 -15, further comprising the steps of: determining a type of the user vehicle in which the user device is positioned; determining a noise suppression level of the user vehicle based on the type of the user vehicle; and dynamically adjusting the ambient noise threshold based on the noise suppression level.

[0055] 17. The method according to embodiments 1 -16, wherein the step of a one of the at least one user device receiving the notification further comprises the step of, upon determining that the user device is currently providing audio through a headphone jack of the user device, factoring a volume of the headphone jack audio into determining whether the ambient noise threshold has been exceeded.

[0056] 18. The method according to embodiments 1 -17, further comprising the steps of: allowing the user associated with a one of the at least one user device to selectively configure an impairment value associated with any hearing loss or impairment from which the user suffers; and adjusting the ambient noise threshold based on the impairment value. [0057] 19. The method according to embodiments 1 -18, further comprising the step of implementing a unique user account associated with each of the at least one user. [0058] 20. The method according to embodiments 1 -19, further comprising the step of allowing the at least one user to create, store and manage a plurality of ambient noise profiles to be associated with the unique user account, each ambient noise profile having at least one of an appropriate ambient noise threshold and pre-defined range to accommodate a particular environmental scenario in which the user may typically find themselves.

[0059] 21 . The method according to embodiments 1 -20, further comprising the step of implementing a unique emergency vehicle account associated with each of the at least one emergency vehicle. [0060] 22. A method for alerting an at least one user about the presence of an approaching at least one emergency vehicle, the method comprising the steps of: implementing a central computing system configured for receiving and processing data related to at least one of the at least one user and at least one emergency vehicle; implementing a user application residing in memory on an at least one user device under the control of the at least one user, the at least one user device in selective communication with the computing system; implementing an emergency vehicle application residing in memory on an at least one emergency vehicle device under the control of an operator of the at least one emergency vehicle, the at least one emergency vehicle device in selective communication with at least one of the computing system and the at least one user device; and upon a one of the at least one emergency vehicle responding to an emergency situation: transmitting an emergency state of the emergency vehicle to the computing system; transmitting a notification to the at least one user device; upon a one of the at least one user device receiving the notification: upon determining that the emergency vehicle is within a pre-defined range of the user device: upon determining that an ambient noise level exceeds a pre-defined ambient noise threshold: providing the notification to the associated user via the user device; and upon determining that the user device is in communication with a user vehicle capable of autonomous or semi-autonomous operation: temporarily taking control of the user vehicle and automatically causing the user vehicle to take appropriate evasive action; and upon the emergency vehicle reaching the emergency situation: transmitting a non-emergency state of the emergency vehicle to the computing system; and ceasing transmission of the notification to the at least one user device.

[0061 ] 23. An emergency vehicle alert and response system for alerting an at least one user about the presence of an approaching at least one emergency vehicle, the system comprising: a central computing system configured for receiving and processing data related to at least one of the at least one user and at least one emergency vehicle; an at least one user device under the control of the at least one user and in selective communication with the computing system, the at least one user device providing a user application residing in memory thereon; and an at least one emergency vehicle device under the control of an operator of the at least one emergency vehicle and in selective communication with at least one of the computing system and the at least one user device, the at least one emergency vehicle device providing an emergency vehicle application residing in memory thereon; wherein, upon a one of the at least one emergency vehicle responding to an emergency situation, the system is configured for: transmitting an emergency state of the emergency vehicle to the computing system; transmitting a notification to the at least one user device; upon a one of the at least one user device receiving the notification: upon determining that the emergency vehicle is within a predefined range of the user device: upon determining that an ambient noise level exceeds a predefined ambient noise threshold: providing the notification to the associated user via the user device; and upon the emergency vehicle reaching the emergency situation: transmitting a nonemergency state of the emergency vehicle to the computing system; and ceasing transmission of the notification to the at least one user device.

[0062] 24. The emergency vehicle alert and response system according to embodiment 23, wherein the at least one user device is in selective communication with an onboard computing system of an at least one user vehicle.

[0063] 25. The emergency vehicle alert and response system according to embodiments 23-

24, further comprising an at least one database in communication with the computing system and configured for selectively storing said data related to at least one of the at least one user and at least one emergency vehicle.

[0064] 26. The emergency vehicle alert and response system according to embodiments 23-

25, wherein while transmitting an emergency state of the emergency vehicle to the computing system, the system is further configured for determining at least one of a type of the emergency vehicle, a current geographic location of the emergency vehicle, a current direction of travel of the emergency vehicle, a current speed of the emergency vehicle, an intended destination of the emergency vehicle, and a planned travel route of the emergency vehicle for reaching the intended destination.

[0065] 27. The emergency vehicle alert and response system according to embodiments 23- 26, wherein while transmitting a notification to the at least one user device, the system is further configured for transmitting details related to at least one of a type of the emergency vehicle, a current geographic location of the emergency vehicle, a current direction of travel of the emergency vehicle, a current speed of the emergency vehicle, an intended destination of the emergency vehicle, a planned travel route of the emergency vehicle for reaching the intended destination, and possible alternate routes that the associated user may take in order to avoid encountering the emergency vehicle.

[0066] 28. The emergency vehicle alert and response system according to embodiments 23- 27, wherein while transmitting a notification to the at least one user device, the system is further configured for displaying a map on an at least one display screen of the user device, with each of a geographic location of the user device and a geographic location of the emergency vehicle identified on the map. [0067] 29. The emergency vehicle alert and response system according to embodiments 23-

28, wherein while transmitting a notification to the at least one user device, the system is further configured for transmitting the notification to any of the at least one user device located within a pre-defined range of the emergency vehicle. [0068] 30. The emergency vehicle alert and response system according to embodiments 23-

29, wherein upon a one of the at least one user device receiving the notification, the system is further configured for, upon determining that the emergency vehicle is not within the pre-defined range of the user device, ignoring the notification. [0069] 31 . The emergency vehicle alert and response system according to embodiments 23-

30, wherein upon a one of the at least one user device receiving the notification, the system is further configured for, upon determining that the ambient noise level does not exceed the predefined ambient noise threshold, ignoring the notification. [0070] 32. The emergency vehicle alert and response system according to embodiments 23-

31 , wherein upon a one of the at least one user device receiving the notification, the system is further configured for, upon determining that the user device has been stationary for a predefined period of time, ignoring the notification. [0071 ] 33. The emergency vehicle alert and response system according to embodiments 23-

32, wherein upon a one of the at least one user device receiving the notification, the system is further configured for determining at least one of a current geographic location of the user device, a current direction of travel of the user device, a current speed of the user device, an intended destination of the user device, and a planned travel route of the user device for reaching the intended destination.

[0072] 34. The emergency vehicle alert and response system according to embodiments 23-

33, wherein upon a one of the at least one user device receiving the notification, the system is further configured for, upon determining that the user device is in communication with a user vehicle capable of autonomous or semi-autonomous operation, temporarily taking control of the user vehicle and automatically causing the user vehicle to take appropriate evasive action. [0073] 35. The emergency vehicle alert and response system according to embodiments 23-

34, wherein the system is further configured for allowing the ambient noise threshold associated with a one of the at least one user device to be selectively adjusted.

[0074] 36. The emergency vehicle alert and response system according to embodiments 23-

35, wherein upon allowing the ambient noise threshold associated with a one of the at least one user device to be selectively adjusted, the system is further configured for allowing the user associated with the user device to manually adjust the ambient noise threshold.

[0075] 37. The emergency vehicle alert and response system according to embodiments 23-

36, wherein upon allowing the ambient noise threshold associated with a one of the at least one user device to be selectively adjusted, the system is further configured for: determining at least one of a type of the emergency vehicle and a current distance between the user device and the emergency vehicle; determining a typical noise level produced by a siren of such an emergency vehicle at the current distance away from the user device when listening from where the user device is relatively positioned; and dynamically setting the ambient noise threshold to be equal to or less than the typical noise level of the siren of such an emergency vehicle at the current distance away from the user device when listening from where the user device is relatively positioned.

[0076] 38. The emergency vehicle alert and response system according to embodiments 23-

37, wherein upon allowing the ambient noise threshold associated with a one of the at least one user device to be selectively adjusted, the system is further configured for, upon determining that the user device is positioned within a user vehicle, automatically adjusting the ambient noise threshold to account for an amount of noise suppression provided by the user vehicle.

[0077] 39. The emergency vehicle alert and response system according to embodiments 23-

38, the system is further configured for: determining a type of the user vehicle in which the user device is positioned; determining a noise suppression level of the user vehicle based on the type of the user vehicle; and dynamically adjusting the ambient noise threshold based on the noise suppression level.

[0078] 40. The emergency vehicle alert and response system according to embodiments 23- 39, wherein upon a one of the at least one user device receiving the notification, the system is further configured for, upon determining that the user device is currently providing audio through a headphone jack of the user device, factoring a volume of the headphone jack audio into determining whether the ambient noise threshold has been exceeded.

[0079] 41 . The emergency vehicle alert and response system according to embodiments 23- 40, wherein the system is further configured for: allowing the user associated with a one of the at least one user device to selectively configure an impairment value associated with any hearing loss or impairment from which the user suffers; and adjusting the ambient noise threshold based on the impairment value. [0080] 42. The emergency vehicle alert and response system according to embodiments 23- 41 , wherein the system is further configured for implementing a unique user account associated with each of the at least one user.

[0081 ] 43. The emergency vehicle alert and response system according to embodiments 23- 42, wherein the system is further configured for allowing the at least one user to create, store and manage a plurality of ambient noise profiles to be associated with the unique user account, each ambient noise profile having at least one of an appropriate ambient noise threshold and pre-defined range to accommodate a particular environmental scenario in which the user may typically find themselves.

[0082] 44. The emergency vehicle alert and response system according to embodiments 23- 43, wherein the system is further configured for implementing a unique emergency vehicle account associated with each of the at least one emergency vehicle. [0083] In closing, regarding the exemplary embodiments of the present invention as shown and described herein, it will be appreciated that an emergency vehicle alert and response system is disclosed. Because the principles of the invention may be practiced in a number of configurations beyond those shown and described, it is to be understood that the invention is not in any way limited by the exemplary embodiments, but is generally directed to an emergency vehicle alert and response system and is able to take numerous forms to do so without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. It will also be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the present invention is not limited to the particular geometries and materials of construction disclosed, but may instead entail other functionally comparable structures or materials, now known or later developed, without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

[0084] Certain embodiments of the present invention are described herein, including the best mode known to the inventor(s) for carrying out the invention. Of course, variations on these described embodiments will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading the foregoing description. The inventor(s) expect skilled artisans to employ such variations as appropriate, and the inventor(s) intend for the present invention to be practiced otherwise than specifically described herein. Accordingly, this invention includes all modifications and equivalents of the subject matter recited in the claims appended hereto as permitted by applicable law. Moreover, any combination of the above-described embodiments in all possible variations thereof is encompassed by the invention unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context.

[0085] Groupings of alternative embodiments, elements, or steps of the present invention are not to be construed as limitations. Each group member may be referred to and claimed individually or in any combination with other group members disclosed herein. It is anticipated that one or more members of a group may be included in, or deleted from, a group for reasons of convenience and/or patentability. When any such inclusion or deletion occurs, the specification is deemed to contain the group as modified thus fulfilling the written description of all Markush groups used in the appended claims.

[0086] Unless otherwise indicated, all numbers expressing a characteristic, item, quantity, parameter, property, term, and so forth used in the present specification and claims are to be understood as being modified in all instances by the term "about." As used herein, the term "about" means that the characteristic, item, quantity, parameter, property, or term so qualified encompasses a range of plus or minus ten percent above and below the value of the stated characteristic, item, quantity, parameter, property, or term. Accordingly, unless indicated to the contrary, the numerical parameters set forth in the specification and attached claims are approximations that may vary. At the very least, and not as an attempt to limit the application of the doctrine of equivalents to the scope of the claims, each numerical indication should at least be construed in light of the number of reported significant digits and by applying ordinary rounding techniques. Notwithstanding that the numerical ranges and values setting forth the broad scope of the invention are approximations, the numerical ranges and values set forth in the specific examples are reported as precisely as possible. Any numerical range or value, however, inherently contains certain errors necessarily resulting from the standard deviation found in their respective testing measurements. Recitation of numerical ranges of values herein is merely intended to serve as a shorthand method of referring individually to each separate numerical value falling within the range. Unless otherwise indicated herein, each individual value of a numerical range is incorporated into the present specification as if it were individually recited herein.

[0087] Use of the terms "may" or "can" in reference to an embodiment or aspect of an embodiment also carries with it the alternative meaning of "may not" or "cannot." As such, if the present specification discloses that an embodiment or an aspect of an embodiment may be or can be included as part of the inventive subject matter, then the negative limitation or exclusionary proviso is also explicitly meant, meaning that an embodiment or an aspect of an embodiment may not be or cannot be included as part of the inventive subject matter. In a similar manner, use of the term "optionally" in reference to an embodiment or aspect of an embodiment means that such embodiment or aspect of the embodiment may be included as part of the inventive subject matter or may not be included as part of the inventive subject matter. Whether such a negative limitation or exclusionary proviso applies will be based on whether the negative limitation or exclusionary proviso is recited in the claimed subject matter.

[0088] The terms "a," "an," "the" and similar references used in the context of describing the present invention (especially in the context of the following claims) are to be construed to cover both the singular and the plural, unless otherwise indicated herein or clearly contradicted by context. Further, ordinal indicators - such as "first," "second," "third," etc. - for identified elements are used to distinguish between the elements, and do not indicate or imply a required or limited number of such elements, and do not indicate a particular position or order of such elements unless otherwise specifically stated. All methods described herein can be performed in any suitable order unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context. The use of any and all examples, or exemplary language (e.g., "such as") provided herein is intended merely to better illuminate the present invention and does not pose a limitation on the scope of the invention otherwise claimed. No language in the present specification should be construed as indicating any non-claimed element essential to the practice of the invention. [0089] When used in the claims, whether as filed or added per amendment, the open-ended transitional term "comprising" (along with equivalent open-ended transitional phrases thereof such as "including," "containing" and "having") encompasses all the expressly recited elements, limitations, steps and/or features alone or in combination with un-recited subject matter; the named elements, limitations and/or features are essential, but other unnamed elements, limitations and/or features may be added and still form a construct within the scope of the claim. Specific embodiments disclosed herein may be further limited in the claims using the closed- ended transitional phrases "consisting of or "consisting essentially of in lieu of or as an amendment for "comprising." When used in the claims, whether as filed or added per amendment, the closed-ended transitional phrase "consisting of excludes any element, limitation, step, or feature not expressly recited in the claims. The closed-ended transitional phrase "consisting essentially of limits the scope of a claim to the expressly recited elements, limitations, steps and/or features and any other elements, limitations, steps and/or features that do not materially affect the basic and novel characteristic(s) of the claimed subject matter. Thus, the meaning of the open-ended transitional phrase "comprising" is being defined as encompassing all the specifically recited elements, limitations, steps and/or features as well as any optional, additional unspecified ones. The meaning of the closed-ended transitional phrase "consisting of is being defined as only including those elements, limitations, steps and/or features specifically recited in the claim, whereas the meaning of the closed-ended transitional phrase "consisting essentially of is being defined as only including those elements, limitations, steps and/or features specifically recited in the claim and those elements, limitations, steps and/or features that do not materially affect the basic and novel characteristic(s) of the claimed subject matter. Therefore, the open-ended transitional phrase "comprising" (along with equivalent open-ended transitional phrases thereof) includes within its meaning, as a limiting case, claimed subject matter specified by the closed-ended transitional phrases "consisting of or "consisting essentially of." As such, embodiments described herein or so claimed with the phrase "comprising" are expressly or inherently unambiguously described, enabled and supported herein for the phrases "consisting essentially of and "consisting of."

[0090] All patents, patent publications, and other publications referenced and identified in the present specification are individually and expressly incorporated herein by reference in their entirety for the purpose of describing and disclosing, for example, the compositions and methodologies described in such publications that might be used in connection with the present invention. These publications are provided solely for their disclosure prior to the filing date of the present application. Nothing in this regard should be construed as an admission that the inventors are not entitled to antedate such disclosure by virtue of prior invention or for any other reason. All statements as to the date or representation as to the contents of these documents is based on the information available to the applicants and does not constitute any admission as to the correctness of the dates or contents of these documents.

[0091 ] It should be understood that the logic code, programs, modules, processes, methods, and the order in which the respective elements of each method are performed are purely exemplary. Depending on the implementation, they may be performed in any order or in parallel, unless indicated otherwise in the present disclosure. Further, the logic code is not related, or limited to any particular programming language, and may comprise one or more modules that execute on one or more processors in a distributed, non-distributed, or multiprocessing environment. [0092] The methods as described above may be used in the fabrication of integrated circuit chips. The resulting integrated circuit chips can be distributed by the fabricator in raw wafer form (that is, as a single wafer that has multiple unpackaged chips), as a bare die, or in a packaged form. In the latter case, the chip is mounted in a single chip package (such as a plastic carrier, with leads that are affixed to a motherboard or other higher level carrier) or in a multi-chip package (such as a ceramic carrier that has either or both surface interconnections or buried interconnections). In any case, the chip is then integrated with other chips, discrete circuit elements, and/or other signal processing devices as part of either (a) an intermediate product, such as a motherboard, or (b) an end product. The end product can be any product that includes integrated circuit chips, ranging from toys and other low-end applications to advanced computer products having a display, a keyboard or other input device, and a central processor. [0093] While aspects of the invention have been described with reference to at least one exemplary embodiment, it is to be clearly understood by those skilled in the art that the invention is not limited thereto. Rather, the scope of the invention is to be interpreted only in conjunction with the appended claims and it is made clear, here, that the inventor(s) believe that the claimed subject matter is the invention.