The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is actively exploring short- and long-term options for expanding the capabilities of the nation’s 911 emergency communications system, including the eventual delivery of photos, videos and data over the 911 network.
In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued in September 2011, the Commission called for comments on various plans and approaches that would enable consumers to send text messages via the 911 network. In addition, the Commission’s Proposed Rulemaking also requested comments on the long-term development of a multimedia-capable 911 technology that would allow consumers to communicate with 911 operators in the same way that they now communicate with others on a daily basis. Such a system, the Commission noted, would be particularly beneficial for people with disabilities.
The Commission believes that enhanced 911 capabilities would significantly improve emergency response, saving lives and reducing property damage. Further, according to the Commission, such an enhanced system could be developed with technologies already commercially available, thereby speeding deployment and minimizing total costs.