OMG, Text Your Emergency to 911

OMG, Text Your Emergency to 911

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The FCC is aiming to update the emergency response system in the United States to accept text messages, images and streaming video.

In the United States, when there is an emergency, you dial 911 on any phone in order to be connected to someone who can help you. The last major overhaul that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made to the emergency response system came in 2001 when cell phone carriers were required to relay a caller's position using GPS or cell tower location. Now, the FCC thinks it's time to further modernize the system by allowing people to text their emergencies to the 911 emergency center. Not only will texting allow you to communicate a problem quickly and easily, as well as surreptitiously if an attacker can hear but not see you, but the new measures will also allow you to send pictures and video.

"The technological limitations of 9-1-1 can have tragic, real-world consequences," FCC's press 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."

I'm not sure that calling out the Virginia Tech shooting was the most politically correct way to communicate the need for these measures, but the point is well taken. We live in a world where technology allows free distribution of images and video, it's high time that this ability was used to save lives.

It's possible that this is the next step in standardizing how police and other emergency agencies deal with problems across the country. You may not know this, but the way that calls (and soon texts) are handled is usually mandated by the individual jurisdiction that you happen to be calling from. Amazingly, the police department from one county does not always adequately share information or practices with their neighbors.

Perhaps in addition to the FCC instituting texts and media to be sent to 911, the agency can also look towards overseeing the standardization of what is often the first line of contact in any emergency.

Source: Wired

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I am all for updating the technology back in the corps. There is nothing more worse than having to dial 911 in a loud fashion when someone is in your house and may be a grave threat to your life.

Work on it USA. Europe should follow this as well!

OMG i totaly jst hit tis newb wit a brick i tink he needz srz help plz send soon k?

So either snap a photo and send it to the cops, or call the emergency phone link and shout "Sonuvabitch WE NEED HELP!" This might only work in certain situations. You senda pic of a street corner and a dude on the ground, that's great, but not so great if you're in the house... Streaming video sounds a bit out there too... Might as well just dial 911 bythe time you've got it all down...

FargoDog:
OMG i totaly jst hit tis newb wit a brick i tink he needz srz help plz send soon k?

hahahahaaha :)

and here we see the biggest inherent problem with the idea. although, i suppose it's probably no worse than people with extremely strong accents or poor grasp of the english language with whom the operators already have to deal.

This has always been what I thought was the biggest flaw in 9-1-1, which was if someone who wants to murder you or something else where they're trying to find you or they don't know you're there, the last thing I want to do is start talking out loud on a phone which also emits noise from the other people talking so the person can find you.

FargoDog:
OMG i totaly jst hit tis newb wit a brick i tink he needz srz help plz send soon k?

I sure hope they enforce measures to discourage these kind of messages being sent, otherwise they might just pull the plug on this initiative when that sort of disjointed "text" speak is all they receive.

I think you forgot "help" after send.

I think this system will probably get very hectic. I predict a bunch of inapropriate pictures and videos being sent.

I have mixed opinions about this.

On the surface I like the idea, anything that makes policework and catching criminals easier is good.

The problem is when you consider the human factor involved. Oddly the better technology makes it easier to frame people and/or set them up. Especially seeing as it's not all that difficult to modify cell phones to be untracable or mask your identity, or simply operate off prepaid and impersonal cards and the like.

Think of the situation covered here on "The Escapist" where a griefer was falsely accused of holding a hostage, and got himself vanned/swatted due to the false complaint.

That's going to be even easier if you say take a picture of some dude looking menacing (he might not even do it consciously), snap a picture, and then send a message "OMG Help, this guy is trying to rape me" anonymously to the 9/11 system. The police are going to be obligated to investigate, and they DO have the guy's picture so they are probably going to find and harass him at some point.

I can virtually guarantee this is going to be abused in domestic disputes, boyfriend/girlfriend spats, and simply to get back at people who piss you off. Not to mention just to cause random chaos like the above.

The bottom line is that the system is either going to require a degree of verification to make it implausible in a real emergency, or for people who don't have registered cell phone plans (or might otherwise want to keep their phone anonymous), or it's going to result in so many crank calls of various kinds that it's going to flood the system with so much garbage that it's not usable... not to mention what it's going to do to police response.

Speaking for myself, the first thing I'd do with the technology if I was a criminal would be to get some of my hoodlum buddies to pose in ski masks and other unidentifiable clothing, with another guy who they pose like they are beating up, yet is also turned to be unidentifiable. Then when I wanted to commit a crime I'd text "OMG these dudes are beating this guy to death in front of me at [insert location here]" with the location being close, but not too close from where I want to rob/commit a crime. Then I can guarantee the police in that area will be busy checking out my crank report (and probably questioning people with the pictures) guaranteeing a slow response to whatever I'm doing if things go wrong.

I'm no mastermind, but there are all kinds of variations on things like this. I think the ease of abuse, and the degree to which it can be abused, make it impractical. Indeed I think the amount of chaos will exceed the number of people saved by it, if it goes through.

I could be wrong, we'd need massively more information about this. It seems like the kind of plan contrived by public agencies... who are always 15 minutes behind the times. They know about texting, but they probably don't know about all the things you can do with cell phones, how people modify them, and how a lot of people who can't afford plans use cards and such (and a lot of those people are going to be the ones most in need of help). For every answer I can think of on how to solve a problem, I think of ten more problems.

I like the idea, but I think it shouldn't be done until they can explain how they will account for the human factor.

Interesting... No very interesting ...True this is going to take some SERIOUS overhaul but if anyone can pull it off... Good luck with that U.S.

This is awesome. Being able to silently get the police en-route AND submit evidence while they come is made of win.

Sadly this makes sense so I'm not sure it will actually happen. but if it does I might have a slimmer of faith restored in the government. Just a slimmer. But it's better than nothing.

Intriguing, but what's to stop criminals/terrorists/bored college kids/whoever from crippling 911 via text messaging sites and the like?

Well, it will probably force 9-1-1 dispatch to hire young people just to translate the incoming text messages.

FargoDog:
OMG i totaly jst hit tis newb wit a brick i tink he needz srz help plz send soon k?

I cannot breath, I am laughing so hard.

At first I thought the only thing it would be good for is if you got stabbed in the throat, but you brought up some points I did not think about.

"OMG, jst kild a man, lol!!!111oneone"

I wonder how undecipherable text they'll receive.

911 texts are extremely important, especially when firearms are involved. Being able to contact the police silently is of the utmost import when the criminal is within hearing range.

Yes Ive worked in EMS and this has been on the drawing boards for at least 2-5 years now.

There are tons of practical applications for it as well. Much as some have said the biggest advantage is being able to alert dispatch silently when in a volatile scenario.

There are other applications for it as well, such as when MMS follows suit after it, the ability to send pictures of an open laceration, or a photo of an assailant.

Face time-esque applications are eventually going to be the goal where dispatch can provide better pre arrival instructions based on having visual cues instead of having to rely on verbal descriptions from someone who is potentially uneducated as well as likely being panicked

This won't be useful all the time, but it being useful some of the time means it's probably a good change. It might lead to increased fake traffic though from kids who think it's totally funny to text 911 but as long as they display a harsh position against it that shouldn't be any larger a problem than crank calling 911 is today.

I'm going to text them a pizza order.

Just for fun.

..................what.

Would be kinda silly to try and save a guy from a bleeding wound with a text...but meh. If it works, it works.

FargoDog:
OMG i totaly jst hit tis newb wit a brick i tink he needz srz help plz send soon k?

This has to be the funniest thing I've read in at least a month XD I can't fucking breathe.

FargoDog:
OMG i totaly jst hit tis newb wit a brick i tink he needz srz help plz send soon k?

That was the funniest post I've ever seen. Literally.

Krakyn:
911 texts are extremely important, especially when firearms are involved. Being able to contact the police silently is of the utmost import when the criminal is within hearing range.

Yeah, but if you've ever been next to a texter. They're really, really loud. Louder than whispering on a phone.

Rationalization:

Krakyn:
911 texts are extremely important, especially when firearms are involved. Being able to contact the police silently is of the utmost import when the criminal is within hearing range.

Yeah, but if you've ever been next to a texter. They're really, really loud. Louder than whispering on a phone.

On the normal keypad phones maybe, but on touch phones? I know even with my key phone I can muffle my texts. You just know jerks.

my first reaction was a giant -_- After thinking about it a second quieter 911 can be an advantage in a few situations, but humans are stupid. Unless you're a 12 yr old girl it takes 5 times longer to text something than to just say it. And video messages? they'll either be blurry as hell or take to long to download. 911 is not the time to wait for youtube to buffer.

Was involved in sorting this sort of thing out for the UK government, the benefits for people who cannot speak, or those in situations where they are unable to speak are dramatic.

there are problems involved, but there are ways to iron out the kinks.

 

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