updated 07:36 pm EDT, Sat May 5, 2012
TeleCommunication Systems of MD partnering on initiative
Verizonand Maryland-based TeleCommunication Systems are banding together to launch the United States' first text messaging to the 911 emergency service system. It's hoped that the system will enable handicapped users -- or people who are unable to speak over the phone for fear of further risk to themselves -- to more effectively communicate with first responders.
In August 2011, the FCC published a five-step action plan to enable a telco transition to the next generation of 911 systems. The new systems are intended to receive texts, photos and video from the public at large, to assist in the assessment and response to an emergency situation. Verizon's recent announcement was met with praise by the FCC.
Verizon plans to launch the service in unannounced selected markets in 2013. Few details of Verizon's compliance with the next-gen 911 initiative have been detailed. While text services should be ready by the expected early 2013 launch, no mention was made of user-transmitted videos or photos in this week's announcement.