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Text Your Way to Safety
By: Jennifer Graber
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The majority of us have smartphones. We use those smartphones to check email, watch movies, make phone calls, post on social media, draft documents, and, well…you get the idea. Many of us are dependent upon the fact that smartphones can do everything, so we rely a great deal on our smartphones, or rather, cell phones in general. This is especially true when an emergency arises. Cell phones can be our key to resolving a crisis situation. However, there is one thing that cell phones cannot do in an emergency…yet.
During an emergency, we might need to seek help from paramedics, firemen, law enforcement, or other first responders. Typically, we request their assistance through a phone call. But sometimes that is simply not possible for whatever reason. The emergency may be an injury, hostage situation, robbery, assault, or other issue where it would not necessarily be wise to be speaking — especially if you are trying to remain hidden. So what do you then?
In the past there may not have been a solution. Soon, however, we will be able to reach emergency assistance at 911 through a text message. The Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, voted to require “mobile carriers and some texting apps to put emergency text-to-911 functionality in place by the end of the year.”
This honestly seems like a wonderful idea; one that should have been developed for quite some time. Being able to text 911 could be lifesaving. This opens up possibilities for those stuck in a situation where they may be unable to speak. This functionality would be especially applicable for college students, young women, teens, and other targeted demographics. What is mostly standing out is the idea that young adults going off to college in a strange, new town will have an added safety feature, bringing a greater sense of peace to the student and parents. But we also do not want to downplay the significance of this important feature for other demographic groups. All ages and all kinds of people will benefit from being able to text 911 centers.
This technological advance is not without its challenges, though. Cell phones, carriers, and the messaging apps pretty much have the capability to text 911 already. However, the 911 call centers are the ones who need to be brought up-to-date in many ways. There are concerns that the centers will be unable to meet the FCC’s requirements and deadlines, thus rendering the feature useless in some areas. There are also concerns over the constantly changing world of technology and how that will affect the capability to text 911. And, as always, there are questions regarding privacy of the consumer. Will consumers have to forgo some personal privacy in order to have the ability to send texts to 911?
These issues seem surmountable. New advances always come with challenges and questions. Nothing new ever was simply accepted. Being able to send a text message to 911 just makes sense. Hopefully, this feature’s quirks will be worked out and we all will have another way to reach safety in this crazy world.

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About the Author
Jennifer Graber is a Business Development Manager and marketing enthusiast. Her specific interests include branding, consumer behavior, development, integrated marketing communications, and new & social media.
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