The 911 emergency response system was designed in 1968, well before the advent of text messages
and cell phones. Citing the fact that 70 percent of 911 calls come from mobile phones, the FCC announced Monday that it is moving forward with plans to let people text message the details of an emergency situation to dispatchers. [via]
Plans to modernize the 911 service has been under way for years; New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a similar effort to allow emergency centers to receive digital photos and videos back in 2007. But Monday, in a ceremony at the Arlington County Emergency Center in Virginia, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski announced the first steps to make it into a nationwide reality.
“911 is an indispensable, live-saving tool,” Genachowski said. "But today’s 911 system doesn’t support the communication tools of tomorrow. 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.
"I am pleased to announce that we will initiate a Next-Generation 911 proceeding next month -- taking up an item during the Commission’s December meeting. It is an important first step," he said.