(DES MOINES) – Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg announced Text-to-911, a new public safety tool available to Iowans, Tuesday morning at their weekly press conference.
Text-to-911 is a statewide system that allows cell phone users to send text messages to 911 in an emergency. Right now, 94 of Iowa’s 113 emergency call centers are able to accept text messages from at least one cell phone carrier. The remaining call centers are expected to have the capability by the end of the year.
“Text-to-911 is a prime example of how we’re using technology to make Iowa a safer place for everyone,” Gov. Reynolds said. “Iowans are able to send a text to 911 when a voice call would put them in danger or when a medical condition makes it impossible for them to speak.”
“For those unable to make a call to 911, the ability to send a text in emergency or life-threatening situations is invaluable,” Lt. Gov. Gregg said.
Text-to-911 is a nationwide initiative. The Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEMD) oversees Iowa’s 911 program and has worked with local public safety agencies and wireless carriers to build a statewide network and make Text-to-911 technology possible.
“Most Iowans use smart phones and other communication devices that offer texting capabilities,” HSEMD Director Mark Schouten said. “That’s why we must be able to utilize this technology to increase the safety of our citizens.”
In some areas of the state, not all cell service carriers have the necessary technology in place to send texts to the 911 call centers that are capable of accepting them. The providers are working to make this service available as soon as possible.
Residents in counties currently accepting texts to 911 can check with their carrier to find out about availability in their area. Six wireless carriers currently, or will in the near future, provide their customers with the ability to text 911. The carriers are: AT&T, iWireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon.
For more information on the Text-to-911 program, visit homelandsecurity.iowa.gov.