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 »
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.