911 is the instant emergency hotline that Americans call in situations of any significant trouble. Now, mobile companies are collaborating with law enforcement to make it possible for the citizens to also send text messages to 911.
The texting option can be very beneficial because it will enable a person to send a text to 911 even if he is unable to call. For now, the feature of sending SMS to 911 is still being tested and gradually rolled out across U.S. cities. The plans are to eventually bring the new feature to all parts of U.S., the same as 911 calls.
The interesting part is that a number of wireless carriers are collaborating with each other to bring the feature to a wider audience. For now, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint are part of the initiative while it is being hoped that other carriers will also join the bandwagon eventually.
Messages sent to 911 will first be received by these mobile companies. The mobile companies will then forward these texts to the call centers who will then dispatch them and forward to the respective law enforcement bodies. Since 911 emergency calling service is often misused, it remains to be seen whether a similar issue comes up in implementing 911 texting. The major problem in many cases is that of verification where it is hard to determine whether a person is in genuine distress or if he is simply pulling a prank.
Although it makes little sense for someone to prefer texting 911 rather than calling the emergency line, there are situations where the option may actually be very useful.