December 21, 2010
FCC Takes First Step to Help Revolutionize America's 9-1-1 Services for Consumers, First Responders.
Rapid Sharing of Videos, Photos and Data to Improve Emergency Response
Washington, D.C. --The Federal Communications Commission today took an important step to revolutionize America's 9-1-1 services for consumers and first responders by adopting a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking public comment on how Next Generation 911 (NG911) can enable the public to obtain emergency assistance by means of advanced communications technologies beyond traditional voice-centric devices.
The FCC has undertaken this proceeding in response to a recommendation in the National Broadband Plan seeking to harness the life-saving potential of text messaging, email, video and photos from mobile and landline broadband services. Despite the fact that there are more than 270 million wireless consumers nationwide and that approximately 70 percent of all 9-1-1 calls are made from mobile hand-held devices, today's 9-1-1 systems support voice-centric communications only and are not designed to transfer and receive text messaging, videos or photos. In some emergency situations
--especially in circumstances where a call could further jeopardize someone's life and safety --texting may be the only way to reach out for help. In addition, many Americans, particularly those with disabilities, rely on text messaging as their primary means of communication.
The sharing of timely and relevant videos and photos would provide first responders with on-the-ground information to help assess and address emergencies in real-time. For example, these technologies could help report crimes as they are happening thus giving law enforcement officials an increased advantage when responding.