FCC: 911 to Accept Text, Photo, Video Messages

The Federal Communication Commission announced this week a plan to provide several new ways for Americans to call the emergency 911 line.

At the 2011 APCO Conference in Philadelphia, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski revealed Next Generation 9-1-1, a plan that will allow users to text, send photos and videos and track locations to ensure effective emergency response is a critical element of the broadband environment.

“Almost everyone in or near an emergency situation now and in the future will have access to these new communications technologies,” he said. “These technologies, and the fact of their widespread use, have the potential to revolutionize emergency response and save lives, but the unfortunate truth is that the capability of our emergency response communications has not kept pace with commercial innovation has not kept pace with what ordinary people now do every day with communications devices.”

“You deserve better,” he added.

During his talk, Genachowski outlined a “five-step action plan” the agency has developed to transition to the new capabilities. These steps include the development of location accuracy mechanisms for NG-911, the enabling of message-sending capabilities for consumers, completion and implementation of NG911 technical standards, the development of a NG911 governance framework and the creation of a “funding model.”

The plan will likely take around five to 10 years to implement.

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