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Could 911 Emergency Centers Switch From An Analog System To An IP System?

As a society focused on convenience and technology, there must be a way to incorporate that within our emergency services. This is precisely why text-to-911 is a new alternative for emergencies. Since most 911 calls come from wireless phones anyways, a texting option is like common sense. Some call centers are already able to receive text messages, while others are waiting to upgrade. Most emergency call centers are also working to switch from analog to IP systems. Of course, this change has its benefits along with some downfalls.

By adding the option to text in emergencies, this helps those with hearing issues contact 911 without having to use additional assistive devices. Text-to-911 also benefits those who cannot risk being heard or found in their situation. For example, as seen in many movies, when an intruder is in the house, it’s often that emergency call that gets the person caught. Texting provides a covert way to alert authorities, possibly minimizing safety risk for the individual.

Upgrading to an IP system will allow interconnection between various public safety answering points (PSAPs). This means that, should a PSAP lose power or become affected by a natural disaster of some sort, calls directed to that PSAP can be rerouted to the nearest functioning PSAP. This keeps emergency services available in extreme situations.

With advantages come disadvantages. The idea of upgrading all systems sounds good in theory, but the act of getting clearance, funding and the actual process of replacing equipment can be time consuming, complicated and costly. On top of that, 911 services are handled differently from state to state.

Another concern is the text-to-911. I’m sure we’ve all encountered unsent texts or delivered texts that were never received. When using text-to-911, there is no way to determine whether or not the text was actually received. That, in itself is a problem, as emergencies may go unattended.

However, even if the text is received, there’s a lot that can be lost in translation. Receiving a text message varies greatly from an actual phone call, where you can hear inflection in a person’s voice, as well as background noise that can provide different clues. Without hearing a person’s voice, urgency can be misinterpreted, which can throw off prioritizing certain emergency situations.

While there are still some areas to be discussed and finalized, the push to upgrade emergency systems and services on all fronts will likely prove to be greatly beneficial. As with every new venture, there may be hiccups in the early stages, but only time will tell how this will all work out.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this subject – feel free to connect with us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ and let us know what you think. And for your phone system needs, visit us online at or call us toll-free at 1-800-564-8045.

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