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 »
NRA Chief: Leftist Protesters Are Paid
1 days ago
Trump Still on Campaign Rhetoric
1 days ago
Trump Rails On Obamacare
1 days ago

After spending a few minutes re-litigating the Democratic primary, Donald Trump turned his focus to Obamacare. “I inherited a mess, believe me. We also inherited a failed healthcare law that threatens our medical system with absolute and total catastrophe” he said. “I’ve been watching and nobody says it, but Obamacare doesn’t work.” He finished, "so we're going to repeal and replace Obamacare."

Trump Goes After The Media
1 days ago

Donald Trump lobbed his first attack at the “dishonest media” about a minute into his speech, saying that the media would not appropriately cover the standing ovation that he received. “We are fighting the fake news,” he said, before doubling down on his previous claim that the press is “the enemy of the people." However, he made a distinction, saying that he doesn't think all media is the enemy, just the "fake news."

Report: Trump Asked FBI to Deny Russia Stories
1 days ago

"The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate."


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.