Sending a Text Message to 911: Winnebago County Looks at Feature

By: Meghan Dwyer
By: Meghan Dwyer

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Today there was a shooting on the Virginia Tech campus and it took hours to figure out what was going on. So that got us thinking: what if students could text message 911 and would it make a difference?

There’s no city in the country yet where citizens can text 911 during an emergency, but Winnebago County has been looking into the idea--an idea that could turn out to be very expensive.

It’s called next generation 911. It would allow people to send text messages, pictures and video to 911 call centers. Last year people in the United States sent more than two trillion texts, but 911 centers aren't advanced enough to yet to process those types of messages. The problem isn't just getting a picture to send: it's getting that video to police in the field.

Another problem is training 911 dispatchers to understand text messages, but for now texting 911 is a long way off so police say it's important you never try to text 911: pick up the phone and call.

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