TEXT MESSAGING & 911

19. May 2009, 16:45 | by WD Milner | Full Article |

Text messaging continues its growth in popularity as the service and phones which support it become more and more widespread. With this increasing use will come the need for 911 call centres to be able to handle text messages. This has both life-saving potential, and immense challenges for those who man these centres.

Te ability to communicate with a 911 centre could be critical for some reporting emergencies. An example is someone who is trying to hide from a potential assailant yet call for help. Currently most such situations result in a call to 911 and a line simply left open. While this yields a location it lacks any further information that could be critical to the responders. The use of text messaging could allow the caller to convey further information while maintaining relative silence.

The downside, is that text messaging can be intimidating for those who have never used it. Those not familiar with the protocol would need to quickly learn an entire collection of jargon and acronyms common in the text messaging arena. This requires additional training and expense to implement. Additionally there are several different types of text messaging from “instant messengers” to short message service and many different protocols; all of which a 911 centre needs to be equiped to deal with. Additionally all this needs to be done through a single user interface at the 911 centre for maximum efficiency.

This is a rapidly evolving issue and we can expect to see more research and technology to deal with it in the not too distant future.

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Categories: ,
Keywords: 911,text messaging,SMS,short message service,emergency response

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