Saturday, December 8, 2012

Giving Americans Text-to-911 (hearing impaired)

Text-to-911 services expected to roll out in the United States by 2014

Starting in 2014, you will be able to use a text message to alert 911 of an emergency in the United States.

AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile have all agreed to support text-to-911 nationwide. The big four carriers will work with the 911 Association and Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International to make it all happen.

The text-to-911 emergency response feature has already been submitted to the FCC, outlining the plans to get it working, as well as the standards and procedures involved.

The idea is to start rolling the service out to customers by 2014, although that doesn’t mean everyone will have access right away. This is a big move and will require hardware, software and training in 911 centers before it can be more widely available.

So what happens if you think you have text-to-911 support and it isn’t in your area yet? You will receive a bounceback text letting you know it isn’t available to you. With that in mind, all parties involved hope to have a nationwide rollout of the service by May 15th of 2014.

So why text your emergency to 911 instead of just calling? While most emergency situations might require the fast response needed from a voice call, there are certainly special circumstances where a text message could be used instead.

This is especially true for those with hearing impairments or individuals who are in dangerous situations where making a sound could put them in further danger or could reveal their position to an attacker.

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