OMG! The Federal Communications Commission is finally entering the 21st century.
The organization will begin enabling citizens to report crimes to 911 via text message, starting this month. Eventually, they'll even be able to stream video from their mobile phones to emergency call centers.
This is a long-overdue update, considering 70 percent of the annual 230 million emergency calls are made from mobile phones, according to the FCC. Also, being able to report a crime via text or video might be ideal in certain situations, when the victim needs to remain quiet.
For example, during the 2007 Virginia Tech campus shooting, students and witnesses desperately tried to send texts to 911 that local dispatchers never received. The FCC recognizes that if these messages had gone through, first responders may have arrived on the scene faster with firsthand intelligence about the life-threatening situation that was unfolding.
“911 is an indispensible, live-saving tool,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a press release. “But today’s 911 system doesn’t support the communication tools of tomorrow. Even though mobile phones are the device of choice for most 911 callers, and we primarily use our phones to text, right now, you can’t text 911. It’s time to bring 911 into the digital age.”
The FCC's next-generation plans for 911 will enable emergency calls to be placed by devices, rather than human beings. The FCC says these devices will include environmental sensors capable of detecting chemicals, highway cameras, security cameras, alarms, personal medical devices, telematics, and consumer electronics in automobiles.
Read the full news release here.