911 Call Center Accepts TXT Messages, Why Don’t More

A 911 emergency call center in Iowa has become the first in the nation to accept text messages (also known as short messages, or SMS).  The Black Hawk Consolidated Public Safety Communications Center is the dispatch office for emergencies in Black Hawk County, Iowa.  Many jurisdictions and governments are looking to deploy the same technology, but Black Hawk County is the first.  Sadly, the 911 texting capability only works for citizens on a single wireless provider (i wireless).

This news item notes that the ability to text 911 is helpful for deaf and hard-of-hearing citizens and kidnapping or abuse victims.  The company that deployed the technology has a press release here.

My own little rant here is that more governments and emergency districts (or any, really, because this service is very limited) need to deploy technology like this.  A few places (mainly universities, like the University of Kansas and the University of Georgia) are beginning to use text messaging to send emergency notices, but the communications need to be two-way and more widespread to be truly effective.

As a side note, this must be groundbreaking for the citizens of this area, as neither the 911 Board or the Communications Center seems to have a website.