Next Generation 911 Will Support Text, Photos, Video, And Data

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Nobody ever wants to be in a situation that requires emergency services, but when you are, that whole “dial 911” thing really helps. Sort of. In truth, our emergency response system is pretty outdated when we consider all the various forms of communication that have basically become mainstream. But luckily, FCC Charmain Julius Genachowski recently announced that a five step plan is in place to bring text, photo, video and data support to the Next Generation 911 service.

“It’s hard to imagine that airlines can send text messages if your flight is delayed, but you can’t send a text message to 911 in an emergency,” said Genachowski. “The unfortunate truth is that the capability of our emergency response communications has not kept pace with commercial innovation — has not kept pace with what ordinary people now do every day with communications devices.”

That’s pretty sweet news considering there are plenty of situations in which phone support just wouldn’t cut it. Let’s say you are in some sort of bank robbery hostage situation (knock on wood). You can’t just whip out the old smartphone and yammer on to the cops about the masked gunmen. But a text sure would help, and anyone who’s young enough to have had a cell phone in class with them knows that sneaky text messaging isn’t all that difficult.

Another hypothetical: You’re at the convenient store one night perusing through the ice cream selection when a robber pulls out a gun and grabs all the money from the register. You know he’s going to run for it, but if you could just snap a pic or a grab some video, the cops might actually find him. In a few years, photos and videos sent in through the next-gen 911 service could be one of the best methods of catching criminals.

The service won’t roll out for another five to ten years, but in the meantime dialing 911 will do just fine.