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Verizon To Begin Offering "Text To 911" Service 194

An anonymous reader writes "In a move that will likely elicit a 'why didn't they implement that sooner?' response, Verizon in the next 12 months will begin implementing a 'text to 911' feature that, as the name implies, will enable users contact 911 operators via text message to report an emergency. The feature will be particularly helpful for the hearing and/or speech impaired, and for folks who find themselves in dangerous situations where making a voice 911 call isn't advisable. Beginning in early 2013, Verizon will start rolling out the feature in various metropolitan areas before progressing to a nationwide rollout soon thereafter. In many respects, this move has been a long time coming, and something the FCC has been championing for a few years."
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Verizon To Begin Offering "Text To 911" Service

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  • MMS along with SMS? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by crow ( 16139 ) on Monday May 07, 2012 @11:53AM (#39916129) Homepage Journal

    They really need to support sending photos.

  • by 0racle ( 667029 ) on Monday May 07, 2012 @11:56AM (#39916159)
    Its a good thing SMS is guaranteed realtime with guaranteed delivery. I've never had a text show up hours after it was sent while I'm now standing next to the person who sent it. Yep, its a beautiful service, one I'm happy to put my life in the care of.
  • This is stupid. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Theoden ( 121862 ) on Monday May 07, 2012 @12:11PM (#39916327)

    As a firefighter/aemt, we already get multiple, redundant calls with no information because the caller is "driving by the scene and thought you should know." So now we'll get a text message with no way for the operator to try and pull more information from the caller.

    "omg im dying plz help"

    So we dispatch two ALS ambulance crews, an engine company and local first responders to find some idiot who broke his toe.


  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Monday May 07, 2012 @12:42PM (#39916693) Homepage Journal

    In rural areas there is often as much "fringe" coverage where SMS works but a voice call can't complete as there is "service area". The best you can do now is to text a bunch of your friends with, "crashed in ditch on river rd, ovrtrned, brkn neck, pls call 911," and hope somebody notices.

    This kind of 911 service could effectively double mobile 911 coverage in those places. That's quite sufficient a reason to put up with the whiny problems posted above.

  • Re:This is stupid. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jahava ( 946858 ) on Monday May 07, 2012 @12:57PM (#39916857)

    If you really are dying, you're probably not going to be able to send text messages very well.

    If you really are dying, you'll probably call 911 instead of text. If you're in a situation where you can't call but can somehow text, then you're probably pretty glad that they enabled texting.

    There are plenty of circumstances where texting is advantageous to calling, such as:

    • For the speech/hearing impaired
    • When you're in a situation where an instigator would react negatively to hearing your voice
    • When you want to covertly contact the authorities

    Additionaly, FTFA, they can send text and photos, which opens the doors to a whole new type of information that can be sent to 911.

    I'm guessing the reason this isn't as easy as enabling text subscriptions for '911' is because they are adding a lot of other features. Texts to 911 will likely also provide the responder with detailed location and subscription information. I suspect they'll also have an infrastructure in place to correlate calls, texts, and photos from the same number together into one session.

    This change looks like a huge improvement over the current situation, and I suspect that it will both save and improve many peoples' lives.

    It's also the first legitimate use for texting ;)

  • Re:Indeed! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Qwertie ( 797303 ) on Monday May 07, 2012 @01:07PM (#39916981) Homepage
    It seems to me that another important use case is 911 in remote areas. Your reception may not be good enough for a voice call, but it may still be good enough for a text.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN