Order Special Procedures Briefing ProQA® Paramount and SMS Text Messaging
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In December 2012, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a proposal to “require all wireless carriers and providers of ‘interconnected’ text messaging applications to support the ability of consumers to send text messages to 9-1-1 in all areas throughout the nation where 9-1-1 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) are also prepared to receive the texts.” The proposal also contained a provision to require carriers “to send automated ‘bounce back’ error messages to consumers attempting to text 9-1-1 when the service is not available.” The proposed FCC rules were based, in part, on a voluntary commitment made by AT&T, Verizon, Sprint Nextel, and T-Mobile to provide “text to 9-1-1” services nationwide by May 15, 2014. These carriers also voluntarily agreed to provide automatic “bounce back” notifications, when text to 9-1-1 service is not available, by June 30, 2013.
Text to 9-1-1 trials (already in progress) have shown that the concept is feasible. Fears that allowing text to 9-1-1 would overwhelm PSAPs, or result in significant increase in incident volume, have shown to be unfounded. Preliminary indications are that most callers continue to use voice calls when possible even in areas where text to 9-1-1 services are available.
The International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED) agrees with other public safety organizations that, when possible, voice communication is still the most efficient way for callers to communicate with emergency dispatchers. However, there are certainly times when text to 9-1-1 services can be a valuable addition to the 9-1-1 system. Text to 9-1-1 services can be very valuable for speech and hearing-impaired people who have become accustomed to using Short Message Service (SMS) texting as their primary form of telecommunication. Text to 9-1-1 services can also be an effective means of summoning emergency help when voice communications are unwise or dangerous as may be the case in domestic violence or home intrusion situations. Finally, texting may prove to be a more reliable way of reaching 9-1-1 services in areas where wireless coverage is spotty or congested.
To help PSAPs prepare to receive text messages, IAED has teamed up with Priority Dispatch Corp. (PDC) to help facilitate SMS text messaging from ProQA Paramount software. ProQA Paramount has the ability to send SMS compatible, exact protocol-based text to Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) systems. CADs that support this feature can use this text to relay SMS text messages containing Case Entry Questions, Key Questions, and Dispatch Life Support (DLS) instructions, including lifesaving PAIs and safety warnings, to callers exactly as they are already written.