As seen in the most recent National Emergency Number Association (NENA) newsletter, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile have announced that they will deploy capabilities for individuals to send text messages to 9-1-1 call centers beginning in 2014. The plan was agreed to by the four major carriers, NENA-The 9-1-1 Association and APCO, and the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO).
Video coverage from Headline News below:
This development comes as public use of text messaging has been growing, often as an alternative to voice calls. CTIA The Wireless Association reported in May 2012 that text messages sent in the US have grown nearly four-fold since 2008, while the amount of voice minutes used has remained static. As texting grows, so have public public expectations that they should be able to text, as well as call, 9-1-1.
Text-to-9-1-1 will not immediately be available nationwide in 2014 — the agreement outlines that rollout of this capability will begin then. When the service actually launches will likely vary from region to region, depending on other infrastructure enhancements as well as training across the nation’s 9-1-1 call centers.
Read the full press release here.
Those interested in this development can also attend a NENA online “Breakfast Briefing” this Thursday, December 13th, entitled “What the Telecom Industry Should Know About NG9-1-1.” See below for an abstract on the event:
It is no surprise that data communication is swamping telecom networks. Consumers are generating growing amounts of data on their own through texting, emailing, and social networking, and rely less and less on their phones for talking. Yet the current 9-1-1 system was built on the basis of voice communications (call 9-1-1 if you have an emergency). While voice remains the best choice for a 9-1-1 call, most consumers should be provided the option to text or email when they are experiencing an emergency. When needed, texting or emailing is far more discreet and can be done almost silently for those who find themselves in situations where speaking could prove harmful to their own safety. For some consumers, texting is their primary or only option to communicate. So, what are the 9-1-1 experts doing about texting, emailing and the next generation of emergency communications?