Aug 22, 2014

Text-to-911

By the end of 2014, US carriers will be required to route all of our emergency texts to 911. The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to require all mobile carriers to route text messages sent to 911, to local emergency response centers, just like phone calls.

The problem is most emergency services agencies are not yet equipped to receive them.

The big four operators have already implemented text-to-911 voluntarily, but many smaller operators have not. In fact, only about 2 percent of 911 response centers are capable of receiving SMS, so most emergency messages just get sent into the cloud.

The FCC also now requires messaging apps linked to phone numbers must all support 911. That means an app that works within the phone’s SMS client must be able to send 911 texts, but a social messaging app like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp does not. Am having difficulty understanding how someone with a phone finds it easier to text than to call, especially when 911 usually requires a series of questions and answers. Thumbs may not be faster than lips, but apps like EVA, SIRI, Skyvi, and Jeannie, etc. might be more linguistically understandable.