US to modernize 911 emergency service

Nov 23, 2010

During the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech, desperate students attempted to text the 911 emergency service.

The messages never arrived. The 911 system was unable to handle texts.

The US cited the Virginia Tech tragedy as it announced Tuesday it was planning to modernize the emergency communications system to include text, phone and video messages.

"911 is an indispensible, live-saving tool," FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said in a speech to public safety officials in Arlington, Virginia, outside Washington.

"But today's 911 system doesn't support the communication tools of tomorrow," Genachowski said.

"Even though mobile phones are the device of choice for most 911 callers, and we primarily use our phones to text, right now, you can't text 911," he said.

"If you find yourself in an emergency situation and want to send a text for help, you can pretty much text anyone except a 911 call center," he said.

"It's time to bring 911 into the digital age."

According to the FCC, Americans place more than 237 million calls to the 911 emergency number every year, or 650,000 per day.

It said that 70 percent of 911 calls come from mobile phones, many of which are able to send text messages, pictures and videos.

"These new technologies have the potential to revolutionize by providing public safety officials with critical real-time, on-the-ground information," the FCC said.

The FCC said if the text messages sent by students at Virginia Tech had gone through, " may have arrived on the scene faster with firsthand intelligence about the life-threatening situation that was unfolding."

Virginia Tech was the scene of the worst school shooting in US history when Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old student, shot 32 classmates and teachers to death before killing himself.

Explore further: Scientists twist radio beams to send data: Transmissions reach speeds of 32 gigabits per second

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Cutting congestion on the data network highway

Sep 12, 2014

Perhaps no other consumer-driven technology has made such incredible advances in such a relatively short space of time as the mobile phone. Today's smartphones are used to stream videos, access social media ...

T-Mobile to sell phones that call, text on Wi-Fi (Update)

Sep 10, 2014

T-Mobile will sell more than 100 smartphone models with a built-in feature that taps into Wi-Fi networks to make phone calls and send texts when customers can't connect to the wireless carrier's cellular network.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Flakk
not rated yet Nov 24, 2010
Yea a text feature is exactly what 911 needs. I can just see it now.

"ZOMG DER IZ BAD THNGS!!111 PPLZ IZ HURT!"