It's a bit surprising that even with the worldwide prevalence of text messaging, the first 911 call center to support SMS just opened yesterday in Iowa. Unfortunately, the system is still fairly imperfect.
You see, only subscribers to i wireless, a local T-Mobile affiliate, can text message 911. And it only works within Black Hawk County since just one call center has received the upgrade.
But it gets even worse. Because a text message lacks location information, your 911 text is greeted by an automated text request for your zipcode. If your zip is within Black Hawk County, your message will find a recipient. If not, you'll receive a text message advising you to call 911.
I can imagine a scenario in which, crouched in an alley to avoid an angry batch of Apple fanboys following a negative iPhone review, I might want to silently summon a few SWAT teams. But until text messaging rolls out to every carrier in every location, it's pretty much useless. [USA Today Thanks Sharnaff!]