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  • 911 via text messages?

    It's 2011...we can't say we didn't see it coming. Thoughts?

    http://www.thestreet.com/story/11219...-messages.html

    NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Texting is quick and easy, most cellphone users prefer it to making voice calls and in an emergency situation it may very well be safer than talking aloud to an operator. So why doesn't 911 accept text messages?

    The Federal Communications Commission has been wondering the same thing, and it looks like the agency is doing something about it.

    Texting is quick and easy and most cellphone users prefer it to making voice calls -- among the reasons law enforcement officials are taking steps to include texting in "Next Generation 911."

    In an address Wednesday at the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski laid out a plan for revamping the 911 system. Noting the widespread use of text messaging and the fact "almost 100%" of cellphones have photo and video capability, Genachowski said he intends to make the emergency response system compatible with all three technologies.

    "In an emergency, people are going to reach out for help with whatever means of communications they are accustomed to using," he explained. "For a growing number, it's texting, which, unbelievable as it is, the current system doesn't support."

    In addition to the convenience of text messages, Genachowski theorized civilians could use their camera phones to transmit photos and videos of injured people or of crimes in progress.

    The features would be part of what the chairman dubbed "Next Generation 911," though he was quick to say that such a system wasn't imminent. While some cities' officials are already able to receive text messages, he expressed fear that without coordination implementation would be patchy at best.

    As usual, one of the biggest sticking points is money, and Genachowski acknowledged that Congressional action is necessary to fund the new system and to make sure states don't use their 911 funds for other purposes. Given the discord on Capitol Hill right now, it may be a while before we're able to text our local 911 operator.

  • #2
    I would say that it's a horrible idea. With the way some people write when they're texting..it would be hell just trying to decipher most of the messages. I say..if it's really an emergency, why would you take the time to type out a whole message when you can just press four buttons and speak to someone directly?
    Everybody counts or no one counts.
    -Harry Bosch



    Some of you may remember that in my early days I was sort of a bleeding heart liberal. Then I became a man and put away childish things.
    -Ronald Reagan

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    • #3
      Originally posted by redsox2010 View Post
      I would say that it's a horrible idea. With the way some people write when they're texting..it would be hell just trying to decipher most of the messages. I say..if it's really an emergency, why would you take the time to type out a whole message when you can just press four buttons and speak to someone directly?
      I could think of MANY reasons why a person would have to text 911 rather than call. If they make strict laws about sms bombing or false accusations or anything of that nature, I think it could work just like the regular telephone connections.
      Been chatting to a girl online. She's funny, sexy and flirty. Now she tells me she is an undercover cop! How cool is that at her age!?

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      • #4
        If you can text during a robbery, during a domestic or something, just something where the aggression party wont hear you, then do it. I think it's a great idea.

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        • #5
          Or send a picture message of what your were calling about in some cases..

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          • #6
            Great idea.
            Victim/P.R.O can remain perfectly quiet while telling 911 whats going on. Instead of "HEY! YEAH. THERES SOMEONE BREAKING INTO MY HOUSE, ITS OK IM UNARMED AND HIDING IN THE CLOSET." They can text it, and remain silent.

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            • #7
              My department bought the technology for it last year, but hasn't implemented it yet. It's also supposed to be able to accept picture messages too.
              When passenger of foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage then tootle him with vigor.

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              • #8
                An absolutely terrible and pointless idea.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Exodus259
                  I'll agree and say it is terrible. People are panicky as it is. How is an operator supposed to get current information about a situation through a text? Plus, it will take a LOT longer to type up and send a text with everything, when they could just call and give more information quicker. Has this generation REALLY gotten this lazy that they can't call 911 anymore and need to text everything? It's embarrassing . . .
                  Yes it is. My sister, a freshman in college, uses about 50 minutes of her minutes a month but texts anywhere between 1500 to 2500 times a month. Thats just out going messages.
                  What Is A Veteran?
                  A 'Veteran,' whether active duty, discharged, retired, or reserve is 'someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America,' for an amount of 'up to and including his life.' That is honor, and there are way too many people in this country today who no longer understand that fact.

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                  • #10
                    I think this will help when calling by voice or making any noise would be a suicidal action, and I'm sure there might be a medical emergency where some people who need EMS are unable to talk so there are non LE benefits with this as well. This will benefit the deaf in any type of emergency as well.
                    Last edited by MD11pilot; 08-15-2011, 12:28 AM.
                    Life is what you make of it

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                    • #11
                      I absolutely disagree with some of the posts here. I think it's a great idea, and I don't think it has anything to do with laziness. Hiding in the closet while someone is robbing your house is a perfect example.

                      I hear you will also be able to send pictures, perfect for identifying suspects in the act, or describing the situation (weapons used, license plates, etc...)

                      I hate text speak as much as the next guy, but it's not like it's undecipherable. I think the dispatcher's will be fine.

                      Also, they are not taking away the option of calling, so I don't understand the hate. If someone wants to take their time writing a paragraph when they could have called, then it's there problem. Some people can text very fast, though.

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                      • #12
                        As long as they figure out a way to filter out abuse, then I'm all for it. As others said, sometimes it's not feasible to call 911 due to certain circumstances.

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                        • #13
                          I am a 911 Operator/Dispatcher. I'm on the fence.

                          On one hand-the points made for the technology are very good and make a lot of sense. It would be outstanding to be able to SEE what is going on and give the responding units, in my own words, descriptions of suspects/vehicles/etc. A misspelled text would be a he!! of a lot easier to understand then someone with no teeth or half of the other people that mumble or don't know how to talk as it is. And even if all they do is text "911 - 12345 Smith St." I will get the idea and send units. Some people get the idea (gee, I wonder from where?) that if they call 911 from ANY cell phone and not speak, we can track their exact location. That's false. Even with a GPS capable cell phone, it's still only within a couple addresses, depending on when it was updated last. If it's NOT a GPS enabled cell phone? It could take anywhere from 5 minutes to HOURS to get very basic information.

                          On the other hand, with the overwhelming amount of prank calls and 'cell phone cops,' unless there something in place to prevent abuses, then I'm against it. For example: there is no way to track certain phones. A lot of times people will get their hands on those and abuse them. They are neither GPS enabled nor registered to any one particular user and impossible to track. We already spend too much of our time chasing around fake 911 calls as it is. I could only imagine what would happen with a bored, mean spirited kid who got his hands on one of those phones, which is easier then you think.

                          Also, the potential for abuses by the public for reporting just their side of the story and having those pictures used in court is overly abundant as well. 911 tapes are extensively used in court proceedings now; will the photographs/videos be also? What I'm getting at is - if one person does something wrong to someone else, then flicks on their cell phone video camera while the person is defending themselves, the police will only see the person defending themselves. Now the police and court will only have the the caller's video recording that they sent to 911 along with the testimony of the aggressor vs. the testimony of the original victim. I know that can very well happen now; but with the overwhelming amount of calls of people with the mentality of "I'll call on you first and the police will believe me BECAUSE I called first!" I could see this happening more and more.

                          Also - anyone who has worked in a dispatch center knows what it's like during an accident on a major road or storm - 911's ringing off the hook - could you imagine what it would be like if you add text messages to the mix?

                          Plus, the delays for reporting certain incidents could be mind numbing. Some people don't report an accident until AFTER they've gotten home. Sometimes, that means they don't report an accident until AFTER we've already been there and cleared the accident. How are we supposed to know when the accident was? We'll end up having to either text back or call back to get specifics = more time taken to handle the calls. That goes for A LOT of other types of calls also.

                          What about people that don't know which jurisdiction to report the incident to or don't know the names of the roads? "Accident in front of Meijer" is a common 911 call. Well, there's 2 Meijer's in our jurisdiction, and 2 more just outside of our jurisdiction. And most don't stop to check for injuries.

                          That's just SOME of the problems that I can see with this Text-911 reporting; and those ARE NOT agency-specific. One that is agency-specific is that when people abuse 911, my agency rarely, if ever, issues for abuse of 911. One citation in 5 years.

                          Bottom line: I think it will be a good tool with a lot of advantages for law enforcement and medical calls, but it will be a nightmare for the dispatchers. I just hope I'll be in a new job before it's implemented.
                          Last edited by Aerohead; 08-15-2011, 09:02 AM.
                          Originally posted by RSGSRT
                          We've reached a point where natural selection doesn't have a chance in hell of keeping up with the procreation of imbeciles.
                          Why is it acceptable for you to be an idiot, but not acceptable for me to point it out?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Ignite View Post
                            An absolutely terrible and pointless idea.
                            As has already been noted, there are likely times when a text message to 911 is an option when a voice call is not. Add to this the fact that a great many hearing and speech impaired use text phones/pagers as a means of communication and you have justification right there.

                            As anyone who has experience working a call center can attest; quite frequently a 911 call is received in which the caller says “send the police” and then disconnects. Upon call-back there is no answer and units are dispatched to an “unknown trouble call”. As for abuse via text/SMS, I could tell you hours of stories about folks who call 911 for: parking tickets, bad children, UFOs, street lights being out, Bigfoot sightings, customer service disputes, weather and time reports, and a host of other obvious non-emergency issues. This is why some agencies have started a 511 or similar system; though it has not made a dent in the flow of non-emergency calls to 911.

                            The same lack of information is frequently experienced by the officers taking the radio run; often you are dispatched to an address or general area for an unknown trouble call. I have had to roll through an area hoping someone would flag me down. On more than a few occasions I was stopped by a citizen, only to later learn that they were not the reporting party and they had an entirely different issue that then one I was dispatched for.

                            While I don’t see this scheme supplanting traditional 911 voice calls, I do see its use expanding. My agency, as several, has launched a Text Tip Program. In this, folks use a SMS message to report crimes or provide information. We have a designated person who receives the messages, screens them, and passes locality specific information to where it needs to go and such. While the general theme is to receive tips; imagine the potential. You can capture photos and video; pass it along and to the police. You have imbedded GPS capability in some phones and in some media transmitted; providing valuable information.

                            In realizing that some folks use text messaging more than voice calls, agencies are wise to leverage what has become the most frequently used feature as a means to ensuring the citizenry passes information.
                            Last edited by sgt jon; 08-15-2011, 09:07 AM.
                            Originally posted by SSD
                            It has long been the tradition on this forum and as well as professionally not to second guess or Monday morning QB the officer's who were actually on-scene and had to make the decision. That being said, I don't think that your discussion will go very far on this board.
                            Originally posted by Iowa #1603
                            And now you are arguing about not arguing..................

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                            • #15
                              I have dispatchers that barely know how to answer the phone and ask who, what, where, when, why and how, much less run the central MDT, I'm not sure that we would be able to utilize it to its full extent.
                              Sometimes, doing the right thing means p***ing off the bosses.

                              "And shepherds we shall be, for thee my lord for thee."

                              Originally posted by dontknowwhy
                              I still think troopers and deputies who work in the middle of no where with essentially no back up are the 'men among men' of the LEO world.
                              Originally posted by weinerdog2000
                              as far as your social experiment, if we cant film you then you cant film us, we will arrest you for obstruction of our freedom.

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