As technology advances, a number of services are evolving to take advantage. Historically, 911 has served as an service for individuals to call in the event of an emergency. However, due to the decline of phone calls and rise of modern communication techniques such as SMS text messaging, dispatchers are being trained to receive emergency reports via new methods.
In an effort to provide more convenience to its residents, the state of Maryland is implementing a $50 million upgrade to its emergency communications system, which includes its 911 services, according to a report in the Baltimore Sun. Soon, individuals in an emergency situation will be able to communicate with dispatchers via their smartphones. This includes sending pictures, videos and SMS messages describing or showcasing the status of an emergency.
This is part of a national effort to utilize the increasingly advanced functions of today's mobile devices. Other states have already begun testing various services that mitigate the risks associated with having to make a phone call in the event of an emergency.
According to the Sun, Vermont has experienced success with its 911 text message service. David Tucker, executive director of the state's Enhanced 911 Board, told the news source the ability to relay an emergency message without talking can be beneficial in many instances. If an individual is unable to talk or if they are in a situation where talking would increase their level of danger, texting is a valuable service.
"In one situation, we were able to get a medical responder to a person's house and they saved the person's life," Tucker said. "[In the other] we were able to intervene in a domestic situation. That person was able to contact us without making a voice call and being heard by the other party."
This service can also benefit emergency responders, who can use it to send out bulk emergency messages and help protect the safety of recipients. Swift SMS Gateway provides the tools needed to launch services just like this one.