The Federal Communications Commission voted earlier today in favor of requiring all carriers in the US to support 911 texting. The support will have to be in place by the end of 2014, according to the Washington Post, but it won’t necessarily be available in your region any time soon — approximately 2-percent of emergency dispatchers can accepts texts.
The emergency texting requirement will also be in place for any mobile app that supports texting to a phone number, excluding messaging apps where the messages are only able to be sent to other app users. This has lead to some concern about users’ privacy, however.
If developers are required to give their messaging apps the ability to transmit location information to the dispatch center, privacy settings would be nixed. This expands into an even wider issue — how dispatchers will receive location information when a text message is sent, which doesn’t convey the same data as a call from a landline.
There are benefits to 911 texting, however, such as allowing individuals in delicate situations to send an emergency message when speaking would be dangerous. Said Chairman Wheeler, “Our first responsibility is to provide for the safety of Americans, and this is a step to continue to fulfill that responsibility. And it is not a final step.”
SOURCE: Washington Post