If cell phones can receive AMBER and weather alerts from the National Weather Service, why not text 911? That has been the question at hand since the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting.
During the attack, students attempted to contact the authorities by texting 9-1-1 but didn't know that the texts were hitting a dead end.
"Many of the students who had texted during the incident believed that their texts had gone through – and help was on the way. They had no idea the text was never received by the 911 center," Christy Williams, Vice President of the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) told a local CBS affiliate in Dallas, Texas.
SMS messaging is so simple that we forget that texts can only be sent to active phone lines that accept text messages.
After the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) received details of a pilot SMS messaging program in Black Hawk County, Iowa, officials were moved to make a change.
Black Hawk County's TXT29-1-1 system has been in place for two years and helped residents in the area stay out of danger. Their letter to the FCC included examples of situations when a citizen could not talk and opted to contact TXT29-1-1.
The FCC reached an agreement with major wireless carriers to make this possible nationwide by 2014. Responders can be more accessible to people in need with SMS services like Black Hawk County's. Users can stay where they are and remain unnoticed until emergency personnel arrive. Swift SMS Gateway offers the tools to launch these text messaging systems.