You Can Now Text-to-911 in Emergencies

On January 30, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission adopted a Policy Statement and 2nd FNPRM stating a goal that all wireless telephone companies and providers of text messaging services enable consumers to send text messages to 911. The Federal Communications Commission encouraged industry-developed solutions to achieve this goal, and proposed rules that would require all covered text providers to support Text-to-911 by December 31, 2014.

It looks like the major companies have listened.  Starting today, you will be able to send a cell phone text message to 911 in an emergency.  AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile, the four biggest names in the cell phone industry, will support the service.

Allowing people to Text-to-911 in emergencies will help those who may have trouble making calls or feel unsafe making calls in their emergency situation.

Business Insider explains how Text-to-911 will works.

  • You text 911, stating your emergency and location, just like you would if you were on the phone.
  • Then the text pops up at a call center where someone confirms emergency personnel is on the way.
  • Send location updates. If your location is changing, you can send GPS information.

Location data is not released upon texting in an emergency.  There is also concern that pranksters might text in to 911 operators, causing more harm than good.

A positive of Text-to-911 is if you are deaf or in an emergency where you cannot speak, you will have difficulty calling in to reach 911.  Text-to-911 solves this problem.

In the future, Text-to-911 will be widely available in the United States. However, for now, the ability to contact 911 using text is only available on a limited basis in a few markets. For this reason, you should not rely on text to reach 911.


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