Friday, May 4, 2012

Find: About time -- Text-to-911 moves ahead in the US

Text has more legs, methinks. See Africa. 

Ars Technica

While text-to-911 has been in the works for some time, it’s looking like Verizon is taking another step towards building a nationwide emergency SMS apparatus, as part of the Next Generation 911 (NG911) upgrades. Those changes are set to also include improved location data for 911 calls as well.

About a year ago, the Federal Communications Commission began proposing new rules to allow American residents to notify emergency services via text message. On Friday, the FCC praised Verizon for selecting a vendor, TeleCommunication Systems to help it build out the infrastructure. The service is expected to launch in 2013. Once complete, anyone in the United States with a cellphone will be able to text to the Public Safety Answering Points, as 911 call centers are formally known.

"Verizon is at the forefront of 911 public-safety innovations, and today’s announcement is another step in making SMS-to-911 service available to those who cannot make a voice call to 911," said Marjorie Hsu, Verizon Wireless vice president of technology, in an interview with The Hill.

The U.S. is a little behind in this respect—British mobile phone users have had access to EmergencySMS since 2009, as VentureBeat points out.

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