This Text Could Save Your Life

The FCC moves closer to making text-to-911 available around the country.

This guy probably isn't sending a text message.
National Journal
Laura Ryan
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Laura Ryan
Jan. 31, 2014, midnight

A vast ma­jor­ity of Amer­ic­ans use text mes­saging, but most Amer­ic­ans can­not reach 911 by text dur­ing an emer­gency.

The Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion wants to change that.

The five com­mis­sion­ers of the FCC voted un­an­im­ously Thursday to move for­ward a pro­pos­al that would make it man­dat­ory for cel­lu­lar car­ri­ers to make text-to-911 cap­ab­il­it­ies avail­able by the end of the year. The four ma­jor car­ri­ers”“AT&T, Sprint, T-Mo­bile, and Ve­r­i­zon — vo­lun­teered in 2012 to make text-to-911 avail­able by May.

Text-to-911 could be a lifesaver for people with speech and hear­ing dis­ab­il­it­ies, and in do­mest­ic-ab­use or home-in­tru­sion situ­ations.

Chair­man Tom Wheel­er said one deaf man told him, “This idea al­lows me to take con­trol of my life.”

Ac­cord­ing to to a re­cent sur­vey by Pew, 91 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans have a cell phone and 81 per­cent of those use it to send and re­ceive text mes­sages. Young Amer­ic­ans use their phones far more of­ten to text than to make voice calls.

But en­abling text-to-911 cap­ab­il­it­ies on cell phones is only half the battle. 911 call-cen­ters also have to up­date tech­no­logy to re­ceive mes­sages. Text-to-911 is cur­rently only avail­able in se­lect areas around the coun­try. The FCC does not have the au­thor­ity to make 911 call cen­ters, or pub­lic-safety an­swer­ing points, ac­cept text mes­sages.

“The FCC has done its part,” said Wheel­er. “Now its time for the [911 call-cen­ters] to do their part.”

Even in places where text-to-911 is avail­able, voice calls to 911 would re­main the pre­ferred meth­od of reach­ing 911 be­cause loc­a­tion track­ing is more ac­cur­ate.

What We're Following See More »
IN 2014
Pentagon Warned Flynn Not To Accept Foreign Payments
6 minutes ago
BREAKING
WOULD PUSH DEADLINE TO MAY 5
One-Week Spending Bill On The Table
18 minutes ago
BREAKING

Members of Congress are eyeing a one-week spending bill which would keep the government open past the Friday night deadline, giving lawmakers an extra week to iron out a long-term deal to fund the government. Without any action, the government would run out of funding starting at midnight Saturday. “I am optimistic that a final funding package will be completed soon," said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Source:
WILL BE RENEGOTIATED
Trump: I’m Not Pulling Out of NAFTA
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

"President Trump informed Mexican President Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday afternoon that he will not pull the U.S. from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) despite reports earlier in the day that he had considered doing so. ... The three leaders agreed to proceed quickly with renegotiation plans as the initial review process comes to a close."

Source:
NEVADA LAWMAKERS STILL NOT SATISFIED
House Puts Yucca Mountain Back on the Table
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"A new bill to revive a permanent nuclear waste repository in Yucca Mountain, Nev., fails to address the concerns of Nevada lawmakers, suggesting the latest attempt may not resolve a 20-year impasse over the issue." The state's congressional delegation "shared their opposition to the nuclear waste policy amendment during a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing focused on the legislation," and promised that Gov. Brian Sandoval would oppose it at every turn. "The new bill aims to finally use some $31 billion that has accumulated in the Nuclear Waste Fund, set aside in 1982 to collect specifically for a permanent repository."

Source:
SENATORS SAY LITTLE WAS LEARNED AT MEETING
Much Ado About Nothing on North Korea?
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Despite bussing nearly every senator to the White House grounds on Wednesday for a briefing on North Korea, the administration didn't have much to tell them. Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley said he didn't learn anything he couldn't read in the newspaper, while Illinois Democrat Tammy Duckworth called it a "dog and pony show."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login