Quick, Text 911!

Texting makes more sense when the "caller" is in an area with poor reception

By Eric S. Page
|  Tuesday, Aug 11, 2009  |  Updated 10:08 PM PDT
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Quick, Text 911!

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Texting 911 may be coming to a phone near you.

The time may come when it may make more sense to text 911 operators about your emergency.

As of last week, people with an emergency in Black Hawk County, in Iowa, could text-message in information, reported USA Today. For now, only i wireless customers (a T-Mobile affiliate) were able to use the service, but Waterloo Police Chief Thomas Jennings said other residents would probably be able to text information soon, too.

It may seem counterintuitive, but in some cases, texting 911 is preferable to dialing and speaking to an operator. For example, people with an emergency in an area with poor reception may be able to text when they are unable to call. Equipping 911 systems with texting capabilities could also help aid haring-impaired callers and younger, tech-savvy phone users.

San Diego police do "not currently use the text-to-911 technology [but] are constantly evaluating new technology," said spokeswoman Monica Munoz.

"Consumer expectations dictate that, at some point, 911 texting has to be done nationwide," National Emergency Numbers Association spokesman Chris Nussman told the paper.

The Iowans aren't alone: there are reports that the state of Minnesota's Department of Public safety is also investigating texting capabilities, as are officials in Alabama, Georgia and Illinois.

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