An emergency call center in the basement of the county jail in Waterloo, Iowa, today became the first in the country to accept text messages sent to 911. "I think there's a need to get out front and get this technology available," the county's police chief says, adding that 911 texting should be of particular help to deaf and hard-of-hearing residents, who have had to rely on more cumbersome methods.
There have also been several cases around the country of kidnap victims summoning help by surreptitiously texting friends or relatives, who then called 911. With direct texting to 911, they should be able to get help faster. An exec at the firm that upgraded the call center said calling should still be the preferred way to reach 911, but texting is a useful complement. A lot of kids already think they can text 911, he said.