Next Generation 911 brings needed update to 911 system

Saturday, May 18th, 2013 By

Stock photo close-up of fingers texting with a mobile device.

Next Generation 911 will enable people to send 911 emergency texts. (Photo Credit: CC BY/Alton/Wikipedia)

According to the Census Bureau’s Statistical Abstract of the United States, texting is a more popular means of communication than telephone calling by a wide margin. The popularity of texting over voice, while considered impersonal by some, has forced business and government to keep pace. CNN reports that soon, people will be able to send emergency texts to 911, thanks to a program the Federal Communications Commission is calling “Next Generation 911.”

Next Generation 911 a bit behind schedule

Texting is not a new invention, which makes one wonder why it has taken so long for the government to institute the technology for such an obvious application as Next Generation 911. Imagine being in your bed with your spouse in the middle of the night. You hear a noise downstairs; someone has broken into your home. You could rush downstairs with a baseball bat or 12 gauge and take your chances – which law enforcement never advises – but you should think of your family. If you need to contact 911, being able to do so silently via texting versus calling so that the intruder can hear you and pinpoint your location is a safer means of alerting the authorities.

Bringing the 911 system ‘into the 21st century’

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski points out that the pre-Next Generation 911 system was instituted in 1968, long before mobile texting existed. Thus, it is not designed to support the more modern technology of texting. With the new system, people will be able to send SMS messages including photo and video to 911 operators. Because 70 percent of 911 calls reportedly come from mobile phones to begin with, Next Generation 911 is a natural fit. Genachowski expects to receive public input on how best to institute Next Generation 911 beginning in December.

Next Generation 911 isn’t just about mobile phones

CNN reports that the FCC would also like medical devices, automotive electronics and security cameras to be able to feed 911 operators and law enforcement live data as well. In order to make this happen under the Next Generation 911 plan, broadband access should ideally be extended to all areas of the country. The United States currently ranks 23rd among the top 57 countries in terms of broadband development, so clearly more must be done to prepare.


Deseret News

Strategy Analytics

Waterloo, Iowa: ‘A technology trailblazer’

Previous Article

« Marriage, Debt, and the Commingling of Assets

In marriage, debt and financial issues must be addressed in order for a relationship to thrive. Here is a list of common concerns and a few possible solutions.
Next Article

Orange alligator wandering Florida neighborhoods »

Florida subdivisions have seen a new creature: an orange alligator. Is the gator a fan of the the University of Florida, or something else? Alligator

Leave a Reply

Other recent posts by Steve Tarlow

Bernanke testimony casts pall over economic recovery

The Ben Bernanke testimony doesn't have too many people enthused about America's current economic outlook. Sustainable recovery is needed.

Fed Study Unintentionally Paints Rosier Picture for Payday Loans

This Federal Reserve/collegiate study attempts to show that payday loans lead to credit ruin, but they unintentionally suggest the reverse. CLICK HERE to see.
This Federal Reserve/Vanderbilt/Penn study tries to connect payday loans to credit ruin, but what they leave out suggests a rosier alternative. (Photo:

Payomatic: New York community financial services company

New York's largest check cashing chain, Payomatic strives to connect consumers with the financial services they need in their communities...
The home page of, where clean design makes it easy to find what you're looking for. A smiling woman holding a prepaid VISA card invites New York customers to try out the financial services Payomatic has to offer.