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PLS HLP! FCC Wants Text-Friendly 911 Call Centers

Photo: Elnur

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said he wants to modernize and revolutionize the nation’s 911 call centers by allowing people in distress to text and send pictures and videos for help.

“Today’s 911 system doesn’t support the communication tools of tomorrow,” such as texting, Genachowski said. In fact, cellphones are now used more for texting than for making calls, he added.

In a speech before the Arlington County Emergency Center in Arlington, Va., Genachowski said the Virginia Tech campus shootings were an impetus to begin considering changes to the 911 system.

The 2007 shootings were a “tragic, real-life reminder of the technological limitations that 911 is now saddled with,” he said.

Some students tried to text emergency call centers during the shootings, he explained, but, “as we know, those messages never went through and were never received by local 911 dispatchers.”

The next stop for Genachowski’s “Next-Generation 9-1-1” proposal is the next FCC meeting in December. He said the meeting would be an important first step and help gauge public opinion

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