Text-to-911 service has been expanding rapidly across the nation since the beginning of 2014. According to Government Technology, only three states were supporting the service across all their counties, but adoption has rapidly spread. Furthermore, many more counties are expected to implement the service in 2015 and 2016. This month, two more have approved the use of SMS services to alert emergency services to a crisis: Colfax County, Nebraska, and New Hennepin County, Minnesota.
According to the Schuyler Sun, the Colfax County Board of Commissioners purchased the text-to-911 upgrade for their emergency services following months of debate regarding the value of the service. The service will help the county's police, ambulance and fire services respond to emergencies faster, while eliminating problems locating callers who are using mobile devices, rather than landline phones.
The New Hennepin County sheriff's office announced that it recently opened its new 911 Emergency Communications Facility in Plymouth, Minnesota. The facility covers emergency communications for 37 communities throughout the area, as well as 23 different law enforcement agencies and 21 fire agencies. The center is planned to begin receiving text-to-911, as well as video and picture messages, in the near future.
The text-to-911 capability is an important update to emergency services, helping making 911 service more available and provide help to those who are unable to make a phone call, either due to a disability or because the nature of their crisis makes them unable to speak. This expands 911 service to be able to assist the deaf as well, an important update to the system.
Of course, adding advanced texting capabilities in any sense of the word requires a reliable SMS gateway to support the service. Organizations, from emergency services to enterprises, can invest in bulk SMS solutions to support text alerts and similar improvements and ensure they are keeping up with advances in telecommunications technology.