Texters hitting 'send' for help

During the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, multiple text messages were sent to 911: none were received. Following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, hundreds of citizens attempted unsuccessfully to reach 911 via text. Why has it taken us this long to support such...


As far back as 2000, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) began planning for NG911. The project gained momentum in 2003 and continues today towards the ultimate goal of establishing national standards and implementation plans for advanced 911 systems and services, thereby replacing the legacy narrowband, circuit-switched 911 networks which carry only voice calls and very limited data. These legacy networks are gradually being replaced with resilient IP networks and advanced systems capable of routing multimedia communications based on the caller’s location. Just as text messaging became the first use of data in wireless networks, it also became the first use of data in NG911 centers.

Text-to-911: The first step

With education efforts underway about current and future text-to-911 capabilities, the FCC issued the following proposed rules in December of 2012:

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