Report an Emergency by Texting 911

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The 911 emergency calling system was created in 1968 and handles about 230 million calls each year–70% of which now come from cell phones.

How well has this service adapted in the 21st century?

Back in 2001, the FCC demanded that mobile carriers allow 911 to identify the location of callers either through GPS or cell-tower data.

A few years ago, some internet telephony companies were required to implement 911 calling that would route emergency calls to the appropriate local center.

Now in an effort to make 911 even more accessible and useful for everyone, the FCC is researching the idea of letting people report crimes via text message and even stream video from their cell phones to emergency centers.

There are all kinds of advantages to this kind of emergency reporting. For example, it would allow people to text in without being overheard, "which could be useful in situations ranging from kidnapping to seeing someone being robbed on the street," according to CNN.

The FCC referred to the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 as a horrifying example of how this new type of service could be really helpful.

"The technological limitations of 9-1-1 can have tragic, real-world consequences," the FCC's release said. "During the 2007 Virginia Tech campus shooting, students and witnesses desperately tried to send texts to 9-1-1 that local dispatchers never received. If these messages had gone through, first responders may have arrived on the scene faster with firsthand intelligence about the life-threatening situation that was unfolding."

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