911 is one of the best tools of security available in today’s world. However, it is not available equally. With cell phones, calling 911 is more complicated. Up to now, the standard advice has been to call 911 and give your location immediately in case the connection is lost. And if you can’t talk or hear, and need to contact 911, texting has not been an option, until now.
The FCC Is Changing Texting for Safety
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently decreed that all cell phone providers must start making 911 texting a reality for customers. For those who may be jeopardizing their safety by talking, those who are mute or deaf, or those with speech impediments, this development is huge. It gives them a real option for getting urgent help in a timely manner when it is needed most.
Wireless providers such as T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint are amongst the targeted companies to be affected by this new rule. Others that must also comply are interconnected text messaging providers that operate with U.S. phone numbers. Providers who allow social media or game based communication between members only do not need to provide this 911 texting option.
Finally Catching Up With Localities Who Offer the Service
Texting 911 is not a new or innovative idea. It has been discussed for years. In fact there are already over 100 emergency call centers that handle calls from 16 different states that accept text-to-911 communications. Vermont and Maine already have it universally available throughout the states. Anecdotal evidence supports the fact that it is saving lives.
While there are still missing pieces of the puzzle regarding this technology such as location determination and follow-up questioning, it is a distinct step forward for individuals in a myriad of situations. It is not meant to take the place of 911 phone calls, but instead be an alternate option when needed. When a cell phone is your only option, and talking is not ideal, texting 911 for emergency help simply makes sense and keeps people safer than ever.