The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) thinks that it’s time for an overhaul of the 911 emergency system to allow users to text 911 with messages, pictures and video in case of emergencies. In a statement issued today, the organization stated that texting 911 could be beneficial in situations like the Virginia Tech shootings, where picking up a phone and dialing the police was an unsafe option.
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“During the 2007 Virginia Tech campus shooting, students and witnesses desperately tried to send texts to 9-1-1 that local dispatchers never received,” the release said according to the LA Times. “If these messages had gone through, first responders may have arrived on the scene faster with firsthand intelligence about the life-threatening situation that was unfolding.”
The texting function could also be helpful for people who have disabilities who might not be able to speak at their time of need. The organization also hopes to set up automatic 911 notification by chemical sensors, alarm systems, medical devices and car systems like On-Star. Currently, the proposed changes are not an official policy proposal, but the organization will be discussing the details in their December meeting and will open the topic up to public discussion. The 911 service handles 230 million calls a year, 70 percent of which come from mobile phones, according to Wired. The last change in 911 phone call regulations was in 2001, when mobile carriers were required by law to notify the location of the caller through GPS or cell-tower data.
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