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May 21, 2014

Why Sending an SMS to 9-1-1 Isn't so Silly

This week, Intrado, a provider of emergency service infrastructures, has announced that it has sent the first text message through a major wireless carrier to 9-1-1. Perhaps the first thing that comes to mind is: “Great! Now what?”

It's perfectly normal to be completely perplexed at why anyone would want to spend their time typing up an SMS to an emergency number. Voice calls are more fast-paced (sort of) and not everybody is skilled at condensing the right information into a short written message. When you are in a situation where a 9-1-1 call is necessary, you're not exactly wearing your social networking cap. So, why, in the name of all that is good, does anyone think that text messaging to 9-1-1 is a “thing”?

To answer this question, we need to have a little bit of forward thinking. What if there was an app that let you select an emergency service (Ambulance, Fire, Police, etc.) and then click “Send”? What if you didn't have to write out an entire message, but instead relied on the app to send your personal information (which you configure beforehand), your current location (GPS is your friend), and which service you're requesting, as well as any extra notes you want to attach?

Adding SMS capabilities to 9-1-1 is like adding a third dimension to a universe that was previously flat. There's a realm of possibilities we haven't even begun to explore.

For example, let's look at a breaking & entering situation. You hear a noise. It's the perp, and he's broken into your house. You quickly whip out your phone after getting into a closet (preferrably one that you can lock from the inside) and write a quick text message to 9-1-1. The cops then arrive and save the day.

Under normal circumstances, if you would have used your phone, you'd have risked making your presence known to the perp. The ability to send an SMS may have saved your life and your property. Now, let's just hope they implement this technology everywhere and a proper app comes out that utilizes it!

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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