Emergency? Quick - Text 911!

Posted by Mark Raby

That's the kind of exclamation you may start hearing in the future, as the Federal Communications Commission is now figuring out a way to let people send text messages to 911.

The FCC calls the project Next Gen 911, which "draws on the expertise of public safety experts to identify and prioritize digital data, potentially available to first responders… which could best improve their safety and performance."

It's the latest in an effort to keep emergency communication channels relevant with the latest technology. At 911 call centers around the country, it took years before cell phone calls were able to be tracked correctly.

Then, voice-over IP providers like Skype and Vonage required special services to be able to place calls to the emergency line.

In New York City, plans have been discussed to usher in the ability for emergency callers to send in pictures to 911 through mobile phones, one of the most important things that could happen as a result of allowing 911 texting.

The Next Gen 911 project is just getting underway, so it will be a while before you'll be able to take advantage of such a feature. However, it is something the government is taking very seriously.

Clearly, though, the biggest problem is the increasingly easy time pranksters would have in sending out fake texts. That's the biggest hurdle to overcome.

An initial report on the project is set to be complete in February.