Starting today, you'll be able to send a text message to 911 in an emergency situation. The service will be supported by AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile. Text 911 is only available in a small set of select cities to start, however it will be rolled out everywhere by the end of 2014.

Using the service is easy, just send a new text message to 911 with the details of your emergency — though you'll need to remember to send your location as pinning things down over text isn't the same as it is with phone calls. You'll also be able to send a photo along with your message, though that feature isn't supported across the board just yet.

You can read more on the Text-to-911 service at the FCC's website.

Source: FCC; Via: Lifehacker


Reader comments

You can now text to 911 in an emergency


I will probably upset someone but people in white shirts and ties at my door are not an emergency, unwanted-yes, emergency-no

I thought the exact same thing before I clicked on comments. Lol.

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I was going to say the same thing, but consider the source. No offense to Adam but he always says things that offends people. He doesn't mean to, he just doesn't know any better. He's just one of those dudes that rub people the wrong way.

Anyway, so this is something only some people can do, in only a few cities, and some have features that others don't, depending on where you live.

Why, in an emergency, would you text and not call. Unless you are being held up in a bank or a store or something and need to be silent. Even then though, just dial 911 and don't say anything. Guess I'm just missing the point of this.

Hey, c'mon, don't rag on Adam. I shot the picture on this one. You're right that the above is obviously not how 911 texting should be used. That's the joke, which may be lost on what's serious subject matter.

It raises a point, though: will 911 texting just cause more false alarms than voice calls do?

Don't stress yourself Simon, it's hard for some to interpret humor. I chuckled right away though, so kudos.

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Harsh maybe? I'm a Mormon and chose not to be offended by any of this, but why take the time to disparriage?

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Way to make a mockery of the service and offend Mormons all in one photo.

You really couldn't have thought of a real life scenario where this would be used?

Mormons aren't offended. From one that has worn the white shirt and laughed about people freaking out about a simple knock on the door, I wish people who are offended about simply discussing beliefs with civility could more easily identify themselves so I wouldn't have wasted so much time.

Try not to waste your time calling me names in a vain attempt to make me feel bad about my beliefs that you likely don't know much about.

ummm... Mockery? The fact that everyone knew exactly what the joke was about when he said white shirts and ties at door means that it was already a mockery.

I don't have any issue with mormons or their beliefs, and i even respect the way that they will go door-to-door cold calling people... and the fact that Brigham Young wanted to be married to more than one woman. But the fact that they go door to door cold calling people is also the worst part about them.

Who wants to be annoyed at dinner by anyone they don't know knocking on their door that wont leave until you tell them no 3 times?

Maybe if they would give up after the first "no thank you" it would be one thing, and maybe they are supposed to... but out of the half dozen i have come across in my lifetime, they don't give up.

This is the point of Text-to-911, a feature I have been hoping to see implemented. I cannot speak due to surgery and am frequently home alone for extended periods. For now I use TRS or Sprint IP but the time it takes to get the message through the service to a 911 dispatcher can be fatal and almost was a few months ago. For those of us who cannot communicate by voice this will literally be a life saver.

The book of Mormon?
Seriously this a big leap. I just wonder how many people will abuse it. It seems like for a real emergency too it would be better to send location instead of typing it out. I'm interested to see how this goes. I still remember friends accidentally dialing 911 when younger. So how many people will accidentally text 911.
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I see the usefulness of this in a situation where you can't talk, such as if someone breaks into your house, and you're hiding in the closet, or perhaps for someone who can't speak because of a medical condition. However, under normal circumstances, why would anyone prefer to text 911? The back-and-forth conversation you'll need to have with the operator is going to take longer than it would on a voice call, so you might as well just call them.

I also see an increased risk of abuse. If someone prank calls 911 from your phone without you knowing, and the police decide to come after you, there will at least be an audio recording of the call, so there would be some evidence that it wasn't you who did it. However, with a text, no such evidence would exist. All there would be is a text transcript, and it wouldn't provide a clue as to who typed it.

I so agree that calling is best, but I can come up with a dozen or more situations where texting may be an only (or even better) option.

You forget, this is Android Central, where people don't like options

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Without a doubt more changes for abuse of the system but there are pros and cons. Could be lifesaving not having to speak to contact the authorities but I can see pre-pay phones being the number one issue with abuse.

Send location in hangouts just got a lot more useful too.

I'm glad for this. Obviously no one here has been robbed before who is doubting this.

My neighbor was home during a break in and they hid. Was too scared to call because they thought the burglars would hear them. She had to dial 911 and hang up a few times on her cell phone just to get the police sent over there.


I told my friends that I see ghost... Everywhere. That they were walking amongst us... They called me crazy. Then showed me a phone with a pixel density higher than 326... I told them I didn't see anything. They called me crazy again. I told them since I see ghosts and they see more pixels than the average human eye that I have a suggestion. We form a new Justice League based off our powers that we see stuff that no else can see!

Status: Now Hiring

Of course there are going to be idiots who will abuse this system. There are thousands who screw up the current one, right now. You don't stop a meaningful technology because there are idiots, and yes, this is a meaningful technology. There are MANY circumstances where it would be impossible to speak to 911 safely, but you could do this silently. Good to see this is coming.

This is a great idea with more pros than cons IMO. There will be cases where people will be able to snap photos of criminals that otherwise would have gotten away--not to mention the fact that one can quietly text while hiding.

Dear Sir stroke Madam. Fire... exclamation mark. Fire... exclamation mark. Help me... exclamation mark. 123 Carrendon Road. Looking forward to hearing from you. All the best, Maurice Moss.

Of course, we know that text wouldn't be sent to 911, but I dare say it was the first thing that popped into my head.

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From watching the video, I assume that much of this push is to make it easier for those with hearing impairments to reach 911. TTY is not used much so most emergency phone calls are video phone calls that require a third party (as I understand it).

Great option. There are plenty of situations where texting 9-1-1 is much safer than possibly being heard while making the call.

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Turn the ringer off, dial 911, and don't say shit... Cops will get there pretty quick if the operator hears anything unusual, even if you are breathing and not talking. The operators are trained not to keep saying "911, state your emergency" over and over... Just saying... And yes, I know firsthand that it works. We had an idiot with a gun arrive at work unannounced once.

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Also could be useful in major disaster situations. The phone lines get overwhelmed but often a text will go through when a phone call won't. I saw this in a tornado situation especially for Verizon customers as it had knocked out one of their customers.

Good idea for the fact that if someone was in a predicament where they couldn't talk because they are a victim of house invasion or abducted or other reasons due to the fact the purp would hear the frantic voice on a 911 voice call. I also think this will be abused more than ever. From a kid calling because they were disciplined and woe is me kicks in, all the way up to boyfriend or girlfriend texting 911 for easy revenge on their significant other for non threatening arguments.
I am really at a head scratcher on this 1, but if it saves 1 life out of 10 of the real/bogus texts It would most certainly be a positive direction. Please don't text 911 cuz your bored or your drunk as hell..

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