Iowa Call Center Becomes First to Accept Texts to 911


text-messagingGot a problem and dialing the phone is completely out of the question? You’re in luck… if you live in Waterloo, Iowa, or its immediate vicinity. Starting yesterday, the 911 emergency facility there became the first call center in the country to begin accepting text messages for emergency situations – and they’ll reply via text, too, when appropriate.

While the move may seem frivolous and even foolish — since typing a text invariably takes longer than making a voice call — this is actually a really positive development. It’s easy to imagine emergency situations where voice calls just won’t work, whether the caller is unable either to speak or hear due to a medical condition or injury, or the emergency involves, say, an intruder in the house while the victim is hiding somewhere inside and doesn’t want to be heard. Just hope you have a quiet keypad on your phone….

Texting to 911 doesn’t come without some caveats. The biggest is that, while E911 services, which let 911 centers locate cell phone callers the same way they can with land-line callers, are at last largely in place nationwide, these systems don’t work at all with text messages. In other words, if you’re kidnapped and aren’t sure where you’ve been taken, a text message isn’t going to help emergency responders locate you. If you text 911, you’ll have to provide additional information on your location, which takes time.

As well, text-to-911 services will be limited to a single carrier called i wireless (a T-Mobile affiliate) and only within Iowa’s Black Hawk County. All other texters will get an automated response telling them they have to make a voice call instead — which means even more wasted time than if they’d simply called in the first place.

Upgrades are planned — and other parts of the country are looking into the idea, too — but that could take some time. Text me when it’s ready in New York.

{YahooTech/Noam Newscenter}


  1. Texing and video clips can be sent to 911 in nyc.

    The technology is manned 24/7 at police plaza and their crime center.

    NYC was the first city in America to adapt to this texting to 911 technology and has been working for many months already.

    Many crimes have been solved just by having regualr people take pictures of crime as it’s happening and sending pictures or videos and or texts to the NYC crime center.