Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Murray Security Tip #631 - Text 911 - Coming Soon

Starting May 15, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint will let you text police in case of an emergency. Here's how it works...

Text-to-911 is a free program for sending a text message addressed to "911" instead of placing a phone call. To use it, you address the message to 911 and enter the emergency in the body of the text, making sure that you also add your exact location -- or else emergency services won't be able to dispatch help your way. (Dumb. It should attach GPS coordinates.) 

Since it's all SMS-based, you will hear a response for more follow-up questions, or when help is on the way.

Who is Text-to-911 for?
Text-to-911 is useful for any situation in which it is dangerous or impossible to speak. Texting is also a useful way to help the younger demographic that feels more comfortable texting than calling.

Although the carriers have committed to supporting 911 texting in their service areas, that doesn't mean that text-to-911 will be available everywhere.
Emergency call centers, called PSAPs (Public Safety Answering Points), are the bodies in charge of implementing text messaging in their areas. These PSAPs are under the jurisdiction of their local states and counties, not the FCC, which governs the carriers. In other words, it's up to the call centers to receive and dispatch your texts. Until the PSAP in your county first requests Text-to-911 support, implements the technology, and trains its staff, you won't be able to use texting in an emergency. (Dumb. Should be seamless.) (more)