Back in 2011, the Federal Communications Commission unveiled a plan that would enable people to send text messages, videos, and photos to 911 in the event of an emergency. Today, the fruits of labor can finally be witnessed, as the FCC announced the gradual rollout of the service across the country.
While the service is live right now for AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile, it’s only so in several counties within Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia. The FCC expects the service to be available throughout the entire country by the end of 2014.
The service works simply enough: if you are in an emergency, just text ‘911’ with your emergency and location. Since it’s through text message and not through a voice call, your location cannot be triangulated, thus the need to state your physical address.
You will also have the ability to attach photos to your text, though that capability isn’t supported everywhere as of this writing. Because the service is still on a limited rollout, the FCC advises people to not rely on text to reach 911, though the service could nonetheless prove useful for the hearing-impaired and when you’re in a situation where calling proves too risky.