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FCC To Allow Texting To 911 321

tekgoblin writes "The FCC is looking into allowing people to report incidents to 911 via SMS from their mobile phones. They are also considering mobile video to show the 911 service what is going on. The current 911 system handles around 230 million calls per year with most of the calls being from mobile phones. One situation influenced this move to allow texting to 911 was the Virginia Tech shooting. 'The technological limitations of 9-1-1 can have tragic, real-world consequences,' the release said. 'During the 2007 Virginia Tech campus shooting, students and witnesses desperately tried to send texts to 9-1-1 that local dispatchers never received. 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.'"
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FCC To Allow Texting To 911

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  • Based on the summary (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @10:05AM (#34316956)
    Based on the summary it seems that the text generation expected 911 to work the way their life works. It is a pity that texting 911 didn't work and it is interesting that it is being investigated
  • Re:What the hell (Score:4, Interesting)

    by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @10:42AM (#34317362) Homepage

    Welcome to the UK then.

    The instructions to the dispatchers in cases like this used to be that they ignore you and hang up. This has thankfully recently changed as a result of a inquiry on a case where a girl was hijacked and called 999 (UK equivalent of 911) twice, got ignored twice and was raped and murdered. This has also happened more than once - 2003, 2004, 2007 are the well known cases which have made the national media. []

    However, IIRC even the new instructions which have been put in after this, still require the dispatcher to try to talk to you first which will make the phone speak and give away your position and the fact that you have dialed straight away (you really do not want your pants talking to you when you are looking down the barrel of a 9mm handgun). In addition to that nobody knows that you are not listened to and nobody knows that you are supposed to press a few numbers to indicate that you actually mean what you mean. And nobody knows the text number even if it is available in your area and it is not standardised internationally.

    Compared vs that I would rather have texts to 112 (999/911 are handled by same call routing) anyday.

  • by faedle ( 114018 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @10:43AM (#34317372) Homepage Journal

    You do realize that E911 has to know the phone number to know what dispatch center to route the "call" to. So, I suspect that it would likely cause a different problem: if you texted 911 from a phantom number, the text would simply be dropped because it would not know how to route the call.

  • by cduffy ( 652 ) <> on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @10:47AM (#34317432)

    Hmm. I'd care about this much more for 311 (that is, the non-emergency catch-all city services line). Email wouldn't be bad either.

    Seriously -- being able to send a photo of a pothole or a tree branch hanging too close to the road or someone illegally parked in a bike lane on a curve after a steep downhill (yes, there's an area on my commute matching exactly that description) with a GPS tag on the photo and a line or two of text would be much more convenient than pulling over and spending 5 minutes trying to figure out the address, walk the operator through deciding how to file the ticket (is it an immediate safety hazard or a maybe-next-week issue?), etc.

  • Re:What the hell (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @11:39AM (#34318068)

    I can only think of one situation: if you are hiding from an attacker.

    I can think of a few more:

    1. You are a deaf/mute.
    2. You have a mouth or throat injury, and are unable to speak.
    3. You are in a very noisy environment.

Forty two.