News : Rockwall Residents Can Now text 9-1-1 in an Emergency
July 4, 2014 -- Thanks to the North Texas Council of Governments Regional 9-1-1 Program and software developed by Verizon Wireless, Rockwall residents can now text 9-1-1 in an emergency situation.
National Emergency Number Association President Christy Williams held an informational meeting at the courthouse to explain the new service to residents and demonstrate the way it works.
Williams said this initiative was created as both a service to the deaf community and as a way for residents to receive help in a situation where calling or making noise might be dangerous.
"A couple years ago, we implemented what was called Next Generation 9-1-1, with a digital platform that allows us to add applications as technology advances in the public safety world," Williams said.
Williams said Verizon approached the North Texas Council of Governments and asked if they were interested in becoming early adopters of the service.
"In January of 2013, we implemented Text to 9-1-1 in Wise County. At that time, we were the first in the State of Texas, and the fifth in the United States to implement this service," she said.
Texts are received by a call center where a team of trained professionals can respond with questions about the location of the emergency and even pinpoint it using the GPS inside the cell phone. Williams said the latter method isn’t foolproof, and that it works better outside than inside of a building.
Pamphlets about the service stress the importance of only using texting in an emergency situation when calling is not possible. The tagline for the service is "Call if you can, text if you can’t."
Fortunately, prank texting has not yet been a problem.
As of right now, the service is only available to Verizon and T-Mobile customers, but Williams said that the necessary paperwork has been sent to Sprint and ATT, so it should be an option for customers of all four major networks in the Rockwall area very soon.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Tuesday, July 8, 2014