The U.S. government is looking into allowing text, photo and video from mobile phones for the 911 emergency service. They are trying to bring the 911 emergency service "into the 21st century" by upgrading their current service to allow these commonly used cell phone features.
The Federal Communications Commission said that 70% of 911 calls come from moble phones. Also, they said that certain emergency situations don't allow a person to safely make a voice call.
The FCC chairman Julius Genachowski stated that, "Today's 911 system doesn't support the communication tools for tomorrow. We primarily use our phones to text, but right now, you can't text 911. It's time for the digital age." This new proposal, also known as "Next Generation 911" will allow emergency care centers to receive text messages and use mobile photo or video to get an understanding of the situation in progress.
Currently, the 911 emergency centers are not well equipped technologically, with some even lacking access to broadband.
This new proposal will bring about a positive change in emergency situations. When people are unable to speak on the phone in an emergency situation such as in a home invasion, they will be able to text for help to a 911 emergency center. The commission has said that texting would have been a valuable asset in the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007. They said that witnesses and students were trying to text for help to emergency care centers but those care centers' dispatchers never received the text.
In December of this year, the FCC will launch a program to get public input on the changes of these 911 emergency services.