America’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ruled that all mobile phone service providers enable users to text message 911. The ruling applies to both U.S. wireless carriers and interconnected providers that allow users to send text messages to/from U.S. phone numbers.
The Story Of A Painful Police Call
Many years ago, the attendants of a party were getting ready to go home a little after 12:00 AM. We were at the gate chatting a bit and saying our goodbyes until an insane man held us up at gunpoint. To keep the story short, we eventually got inside and my sister called the police. They couldn’t hear her, so she had to repeat the address multiple times, despite talking at a normal volume. This is one of multiple drawbacks of that old, analog landline technology.
Why This Regulation Is So Important
- People with hearing or speech disability may not be able to call the police if threatened by an intruder, so this is a lifesaver to them.
- Reception during calls is sometimes poor, preventing the police station from hearing important details such as the victims’ address and the type of situation they are in.
- Excessive background noise such as loud music in the neighbourhood, gunshots, screams will prevent the police from hearing the victims.
- People who are hiding from intruders need to be able to contact the police without being heard and attacked by them.
‘Today’s action will make text-to-911 more uniformly available and keeps pace with how Americans communicate,’ the FCC said in a statement. ‘More than one hundred 911 call centres serving portions of 16 states and two entire states (Vermont and Maine) are now accepting emergency texts, and there are already reports of lives saved.’
The FCC didn’t say whether or not location data would be used to trace text messages. Now that feature would be incredibly helpful because victims don’t always have enough time to talk to the police, so even a ‘help’ message could save their lives if this feature was implemented.
While the ability to text message 911 will certainly save lives, the FCC pointed out that text messages should not be considered a replacement for phone calls, and that they should just be a compliment to the conventional 911 phone service.
This is one of the great ways in which technology can impact our lives. Technology is a double-edged sword, if you use it right, you can do great things, if you don’t, you will encounter problems (accidents caused due to texting while driving).