Everywhere you look people are walking around with their smartphones whether texting, checking email or talking on the phone. So it’s only right that emergency notification technologies keep pace. To that end, 27 call centers in Texas have implemented texting technology and, according to an article in the Texas Tribune, “More Emergency Centers are Gearing up to Receive Texts” this implementation is one of the largest in the country using T-Mobile and Verizon (News - Alert). This is also the first step toward modernizing the emergency notification system and making it efficient and better suited to help the community.
Using text technology also makes contacting emergency assistance available to deaf users which offers protection to everyone. Phone (News - Alert) calls will remain the primary mode but there will be the option for text. The text option has not been extensively marketed or publicized due to it only being available on two networks (Verizon and T-Mobile (News - Alert)) and not available in every state. With more and more people relying on their cell phones, some 70 to 80 percent of emergency 911 calls are coming from cell phones. The Association of Public Safety Communications has been working with Sprint, AT&T (News - Alert), Verizon and T-Mobile to develop and expand the 911-text technology.
The North Central Texas Council of Government’s call centers in the northern Texas counties were the first to implement the technology primarily due to them already being Internet-based systems which made for any easy, cost-effective installation. Older systems will incur a cost to update their system but the advantages outweigh the cost with the future potential being limitless. Beyond the text capabilities, they are looking into future video and photo messaging with one potential application being the scene of a car crash. Pictures of the crash scene could be sent to the emergency notification system and then potentially sent to first responders and hospitals to provide an accurate description of the severity and potential of injury. This is vital information which can be used to provide an appropriate level of care as quickly as possible.