FCC to Update 911 for Text Messages, Photos and Videos?
The Federal Communications Commission is finally planning on updated the 911 emergency service to bring it into the digital age. Hopefully, in the near future, we will have the ability to make 911 "calls" through text messaging and possibly photos and videos which could help the responders better understand the situation.
This update is not being made to placate the millennial generation and their love of texting as some might think. There are very real life-saving reasons for this important digital update. Think of the many examples when speaking into a phone could put a person into further danger, such as a home invasion. One real world example was the Virginia Tech shootings. Many students hiding in campus buildings sent text messages to 911 that were never received. In addition to this danger, texting is extremely useful to people with various disabilities.
There is already an initiative in place that is dealing with this problem. The Next Generation 9-1-1 initiative has established the foundation for public emergency communications services in a wireless mobile society. This initiative focused on the research required to produce a design for a next generation 9-1-1 system. They finished their studies in September 2009 and are published on the Research and Innovative Technology Administration website. Now it is in the hands of the FCC.
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski will be calling a meeting in December to seek comments from the public on updating the 911 services. How could anybody be against making a service safer and more relevant to the world we now live in? Technology keeps changing and updating and when it is for the good, we must take advantage of technology's benefits.