Soon You Might Be Able to FaceTime and Text 911

Soon You Might Be Able to FaceTime and Text 911
Carlos Hergueta/Apple/Flickr

Update: The City Council today voted 12-0 to have select departments (see below) report back on how this high-tech 911 communication can happen in L.A.

Don't try this at home, kids, especially if you have a real emergency.

According to a motion from city Councilman Paul Krekorian, "Today, in Los Angeles, if residents send a text message to 911 they will receive a return message telling them to call 911."

Yeah, and flaming emojis probably won't help your situation. But Krekorian wants the city to start looking ahead to a day when we would be able to FaceTime with first responders, send those S.O.S. texts, and even transmit photos and videos:

The L.A. City Council is scheduled to vote this morning on Krekorian's proposal.

It asks that the Los Angeles Police Department, the L.A. Fire Department, the Information Technology Agency and other departments report back to the council in six months about how our town can adopt what he calls "Next Generation 911."

The councilman's office says 8 out of 10 Americans use their cellphones to text and send pictures and videos but that "the technology that most people use to communicate is not compatible with L.A.’s emergency response system."

The system accepts phone calls only. 

Next Generaton 911 allows the broadband networks to carry your emergency texts and media directly to dispatchers. A rep for Krekorian said a future system could feasibly include using FaceTime to show dispatchers live video of an emergency scene.

This is what happens when you text 911 in L.A. today.
This is what happens when you text 911 in L.A. today.
Office of Paul Krekorian

In the future, for example, you might be able to show en-route firefighters video of a blaze so they can prepare and strategize. 

The technology also promises "automatic location identification" so that if you have a true emergency text for 911, dispatchers would know exactly where you are. 

Krekorian:

If you send a text message asking for help to 911 today, you get an automated return message telling you to call 911. Our system needs upgrading and updating. We should look into the possibility of implementing Next Generation 911 in Los Angeles right away. It will give people with speech or hearing impairments access to this essential service, and allow people in dangerous situations to send texts or photos instantaneously to a 911 operator. This technology could help save lives and improve our emergency services.

This could also make drunk dialing 911, trying to order pizza from police, or flirting with dispatchers especially perilous for idiots in the future. And that's not such a bad thing.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.


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