The four major US carriers have joined forces and agreed to create a nationwide 911 texting service. It will allow their customers to send a text message in the case of emergency rather than making a voice call.
The FCC has announced that AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile have signed up to a "text-to-911" plan, which will slowly be rolled out through 2013 until its fully operational across the US by May 15th 2014.
Part of the FCC's attempt to "bring 911 into the Digital Age", the initiative should allow people to send texts, along with supplementary photos and video, to the emergency services. Obviously it brings a host of benefits, making 911 more accessible to those with hearing and speech difficulties, as well as providing a means of offering up more information to the services before they arrive on the scene.
Seeing as the big four are signed up—it's worth noting that Verizon has been keen on the idea for some time—the service will be available to over 90 percent of the population when it's fully rolled out in 2014. Until then, users will get a bounce-back text if the service isn't available in their area. Minor concerns over abuse of the service aside, it's a great idea to offer more ways to raise alarm in an emergency. [FCC via Reuters via Verge]
Image from Dave Hosford under Creative Commons license