In addition to assisting deaf and hard of hearing customers, the program will be incredibly useful for those times when a potential victim might be in danger by making a phone call. Home invasions are all too common and the ability to remain silent while contacting the appropriate authorities could mean the difference between life and death.
From The Hill:
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski praised Verizon Wireless on Friday for selecting a vendor to help deploy its first-in-the-nation implementation of its “text-to-911″ service.
The service will allow wireless phone users to contact Public Safety Answering Points, or 911 call centers, using text messages. It could be of particular use to deaf and hard of hearing consumers, who have been shown to be rapid adopters of smartphones for their text-messaging capabilities.
“Verizon is at the forefront of 911 public-safety innovations, and today’s announcement is another step in making SMS-to-911 service available to those who cannot make a voice call to 911,” said Marjorie Hsu, Verizon Wireless vice president of technology.
“Our company is continuing its long-standing commitment to address the needs of public safety and our customers by offering another way to get help in an emergency by using wireless technology,” she said.
FCC spokesperson Tammy Sun said Genachowski “commended the company for offering consumers another way to reach 911 that is consistent with how millions of consumers already use mobile devices in their daily lives.”
The FCC recently began an inquiry to gather data on potential uses and advantages of “next-generation” 911 services that could make use of video and text in addition to standard phone calls.
Verizon hopes to deploy the text-to-911 service during the early part of next year in select areas using its existing mobile network. It will be available to anyone with a text-messaging-capable phone.