The FCC recently announced that it is moving forward with plans to let people text message the details of an emergency situation to dispatchers.
The Next-Generation 911 service will allow people in situations where they are unable to speak to communicate with emergency dispatchers — to send a photo of a car leaving the scene of an armed robbery, to let a deaf person communicate with a call centre, or even to allow environmental or chemical sensors or security cameras to transmit alerts.
Benefits of Next-Generation 9-1-1:
• Text for Help: Many Americans, particularly those with disabilities, rely on texting as their primary means of communication. In some emergency situations — especially in circumstances where a call could further jeopardize someone’s life and safety — texting is the only way to reach out for help. Next-Generation 9-1-1 would allow call centres to receive texts and put them to use.
• Real-Time Rapid Response: Mobile video and photos provide first responders with on-the ground information that helps them assess and address the emergency in real-time. These technologies also help report crime as it is happening. Next-Generation 9-1-1 would expand the multi-media capabilities of 9-1-1 call centres.
• Automatic Alerting: Next-Generation 9-1-1 would enable emergency calls to be placed by devices, rather than human beings. Examples of such devices include environmental sensors capable of detecting chemicals, highway cameras, security cameras, alarms, personal medical devices, telematics, and consumer electronics in automobiles.