For those who are too injured to speak after an accident or if a discrete message needs to be sent to police, texting 911 could be a life-saver. The Federal Communications Commission met Wednesday to discuss moving forward with plans to allow 911 texts, photos, video and other IP communication for emergency situations.
The Hill quotes Chairman Julius Genachowski saying that it's hard to imagine that we can't text 911.
"The unfortunate truth is that the capability of our emergency response communications has not kept pace with commercial innovation — has not kept pace with what ordinary people now do every day with communications devices. The shift to [Next Generation 911 (NG911)] can’t be about if, but about when and how.”
NG911 was proposed in 2010 and a rulemaking is expected to be made next month. The press release from the FCC says that the ability to send IP-based communications to 911 will increase accessibility to the service, provide responders with more information about the emergency and increase reliablity compared to the current circuit-switch system.
The press release states the traditional system would stay in place, even after NG911 was implemented, for as long as necessary. For now, the FCC has a five-step plan to move toward allowing this new form of communication: develop location accuracy; enable customers to send text, photos and video to answering points; complete/implement technical standards; develop governance framework; and develop funding model.
The Hill references the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting as the stimulus behind the FCC's push for allowing IP-based communication with 911 responders.