FCC May Allow You To Text 911

If you’re unable to speak during an emergency, but still have access to your cell phone, you will soon be able to send a text, picture or video to 911. Although, until 911 dispatchers are up to date with technology you still need to pick up the phone and dial a real operator. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Here’s a public safety message: You can’t text 911.

Not yet, anyway. The Federal Communications Commission says that shortcoming was evident during the Virginia Tech massacre. Students and witnesses tried texting 911 for help. But those texts went unanswered because call centers can’t accept texts or photos.

That doesn’t appear likely to change any time soon, but the government now says it’s ready to explore the possibility of making 911 go mobile. FCC Commissioner Julius Genachowski announced today that the commission will hold a Next Generation 911 proceeding in December, the first step in an inquiry process that will determine states’ capabilities and financing requirements for updating the system.

“Today’s 9-1-1 system doesn’t support the communication tools of tomorrow,” Mr. Genachowski said. “Many 9-1-1 call centers don’t even have broadband, and some are in communities where broadband isn’t even available. That is unacceptable.”

[continues at The Wall Street Journal]