Black Hawk County In Iowa Becomes First County To Support 911 Texting

Posted Aug 7, 2009

The police in Waterloo, Iowa the Black Water County has become the county in the U.S. to accept text messages for emergencies.  Residents of the county will be able to send the text messages to 911 services as long as they are a customer of i wireless, a T-Mobile affiliate company in that area.  To verify their location, the text message must contain the user’s zip code.  If the zip code matches their location, the message will be forward to 911 operators who will carry out their text message to someone that can help.

If someone in that area does not use i wireless and tries to send a text to 911, they will receive a message back telling them to actually call 911 for help.  The county is currently talking to other phone operating companies to see if they can make the service available to everyone in the area.

InformationWeek points out that this service is a big deal because sometimes it is not safe to make a phone call during certain emergencies.  For example, if an intruder breaks into your home or business and you are in hiding, sending a text message can be done quietly.  And supposedly many kids believe that texting 911 instead of calling actually works too.

Granted that this is a great and innovative service, I think it would be much more helpful to have the 911 operator assist you rather than sending a text and hoping it reaches someone on the other side. Those of you in Black Hawk County that are crazy about texting should also avoid sending non-emergency, useless texts like the one in the above picture to authorities.