Angelenos Should Be Able to Text 911


Since 1968 when the first call was placed, 9-1-1 has been an essential part of our nation’s emergency response and disaster preparedness system.

It remains as important as ever , especially in the City of Los Angeles, but the technology has not kept up with society. We currently have a system that won’t accommodate the way most people communicate.

We don’t just call each other now . Eighty percent of Americans use their cell phones to send and receive texts. People of all ages and backgrounds have conversations, and send photos and videos by text.

This is especially true for the 55 million Americans who are hearing or speech impaired. For them, texting is one of the most valuable methods of communication. In Los Angeles today, reporting an emer gency poses a challenge for a deaf person, who must use text and video phone to communicate quickly.

Right now, LA residents can only access 911 by placing a phone call. If you text 911 asking for help, you get an automated return message telling you to call 911. Try it and you will see what I mean.

Our system needs upgrading and updating. That’s why I introduced a motion which the City Council approved on Sept. 19 to have the city study implementing Next Generation 911 right here. Next Generation 911 is a modern service that relies on broadband technology to accept text messages and allows for instant communication with emer gency response systems.

Developed by the federal government several years ago, Next Generation 911 is now used by more than 100 cities and jurisdictions, including the state of Vermont, and cities like Dallas, Texas and Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

The Los Angeles Police and Fire Departments, the Dept. on Disability and Los Angeles agencies will analyze what it will take to make this change and report back to the City Council in 180 days.

I look forward to getting the results and moving ahead. Next Generation 911 is a technology Los Angeles should embrace. It could help save lives and improve our emergency services for everyone.