In the wake of deadly mass shootings such as the tragedy in Orlando on June 12, several emergency centers are now considering adding texting capabilities to the standard 911 phone call. The Washington Post reports that people, particularly those in hostage situations, are more and more frequently texting loved ones and asking them to call the police because making a phone call might cause the emergency situation to escalate.
Currently, only a small fraction of dispatch centers are able to accept texts about emergencies. Officials worry that expanding this service might slow down emergency response because civilians would become too reliant on texting than calling.
There are some pros to the suggested new system. By offering texting, it would allow people to send photos and videos of a perpetrator or their surroundings. It would also allow those in domestic violence situations where they may need to be more discreet for their sake of their immediate safety.
People with disabilities may also have an easier time sending a text compared to making a phone call.
Over 150 emergency response centers are reported to add texting capabilities to their facilities in 2016. Perhaps adding texting to the standard 911 call will allow police officials to respond to emergency situations more efficiently. And until the world becomes a safer place, that is something we most certainly need.