We’ve all seen movies where a terrified homeowner hides under the bed or in the closet, afraid to call 911 because of menacing home invaders. Well, worry no more, hypothetical crime victim: Verizon has announced plans to let customers text 911 during emergencies.
The service should be especially useful for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Previously, people who couldn’t hear had to rely on a teletypewriter (TTY) or videophone to relay messages to emergency responders. Both options aren’t very mobile, making it hard to ask for assistance when away from home.
Being able to text 911 will also help in situations like the one I described above, where speaking on the phone could put you in danger. I joke about horror movies, but home invasions happen quite often, and I know I would feel more comfortable texting 911 than whispering to an emergency responder.
Verizon is working with TeleCommunication Systems Inc. to hopefully get the system up and running by early 2013, when it will be available to “Verizon Wireless customers who have a text-capable phone and a service plan that includes text messaging.”
My first thought when I read Verizon’s announcement was “Why isn’t this already available?” You don’t even need a smartphone to use this feature; the fact that it took until 2012 for a carrier to think of this just demonstrates how far behind the curve companies are when it comes to fully utilizing their technology for the disabled, whether it’s texting 911 or helping people speak with an iPad.