How horrible it is to be a 911 operator. You have to answer calls from screaming/injured/angry/crazy/dying people all day. Their job is about to get worse, as soon they’ll be able to receive texts, photos and video of that misery.
The US Federal Communications Commission just announced a plan to catch 911 emergency services up with current technology. Called NG911, the FCC is aiming for standardisation across US emergency networks which are not control by any one governing body. With this update, Americans will now be able to send text, photos and videos to 911, because sometimes a picture of horrible shit is worth a thousand words about horrible shit. The plan also calls for first responders to be able to receive the text, pictures and video, too, so they know better what they’re dealing with before they arrive, so this sort of technology could prove to be a literal life-saver in hostage-type situations where phone calls can’t be made but a sneaky text might be possible, or for those with disabilities.
At the same time, the potential for abuse seems almost too great. Imagine losing your phone, only to have some merry prankster send some shots to 911 from your phone number. Or think of the visuals these poor 911 operators are going to be subjected to. There’s gotta be a filter, right? The plan also calls for a better a positioning system so they can lock onto exactly where the texts are coming from. In a utopia that would be great. In our world, where my phone’s GPS thinks I’m at a Papa John’s 2km away when I’m in my apartment, this seems problematic.
In general, I’m for this. The prospect of saving lives is worth the risks and the potential trauma to those poor souls who will have to field the messages. Just know that their therapy will come out of your tax dollars, and they might need a lot of it. [The FCC via The Hill]
Image: Shutterstock/Tyler Hartl