Convenient or Crazy? Texting 911 for Emergencies

Convenient or Crazy? Texting 911 for Emergencies

Taryn Williford
Nov 29, 2010

The current emergency system can't handle it yet, but the Federal Communications Commission is set to meet and discuss the possibility of Next Generation 9-1-1: A system that allows users to communicate with emergency dispatchers via text message and submit emergency details through picture and video texts.

The December meeting of the FCC has a game-changing idea up for discussion: an updated version of our emergency system called Next Generation 9-1-1. If it goes into effect, we'll be able to text—rather than call—to report emergencies.

The idea is to help all civilians be able to report crime and danger quickly, especially when talking on the phone is not a safe option. Plus, it finally gives efficient access for deaf users to reach emergency call centers.

But the switch won't be easy. Even though 70 percent of calls to 911 nationwide are from cell phones, there are still concerns about getting wireless carriers on board and pinpointing the locations of sent text messages.

Plus, call center dispatchers will need new training to handle text emergencies and their call center equipment will need an upgrade. But if all goes well, we could all be the beneficiaries of an updated tech-savvy nationwide emergency plan.

The only downside? Your phone now has two ways to butt-dial 911.

(Images: Flickr user 111 Emergency under license from Creative Commons, Flickr user TarahDawdy under license from Creative Commons.)

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