The 2000’s are coming to 911,thee universal emergency number for the US (and a few other countries). People who are either hiding or who can’t talk (or hear, or both) can now send an SMS to 911 instead of calling and having to speak directly to an operator.

 

As far as we’re concerned, this is  is a huge step in the right direction. Adding functionality to the 911 system that directly benefits the citizens has been lacking, and the ability to text them should have been installed years ago.

The usual arguments against this has been the risk of misunderstandings, the emergence of the specialized texting language, “invented” to shorten words in a timethen text messages could not be joined, and people were limited to 160 characters or so. This, however, was a long time ago by now.

The citizens of Franklin County, Ohio will be the first to experience this leap in 911 tech – hopefully, only few will need it, of course, but this could make calling for help in a time of need less of a hassle (because yes, it really can be) and less risky (just remember to turn the sound off, and make sure your vibrator function is the same…) when that pesky kidnapper is right outside your closet door.

So what’s the downside, you ask? Well, what you meant to ask was probably “what’s it gonna cost me?” We understand. Well… It’s gonna cost ya 28 cents per month, for “enhanced wireless 911”. So you’ll probably survive. Additionally, the SMS service will eventually include the ability to send video/images/sound, but that is the next step in the process.

Also, please no sexting the 911 operator, people!

From Dispatch.com:

The sheriff’s office and five centers in the county that handle all wireless 911 calls are upgrading to allow texting, and eventually images and video sent via cellphone. There are still kinks to work out in the $2.3 million upgrade, and the earliest the texting capability will be available likely is next year, according to the county’s Office of Homeland Security and Justice Programs.

“This will be beneficial in instances when someone is hiding from someone and can’t talk, or it’s also going to be beneficial to the hearing impaired,” said David Ziegler, who is overseeing the project in the homeland security office. “We have to make sure we do it in a secure fashion so there will be absolutely no negative impact on 911.”

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