FCC to modernize 9-1-1 call centers

Tuesday - 11/23/2010, 3:08pm EST

The next generation of the 9-1-1 system will allow Americans to text for help and send videos and photos from mobile devices.

The 9-1-1 system receives 650,000 calls a day. But that system is outdated, said Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, in a statement.

"Today's 9-1-1 system doesn't support the communication tools of tomorrow," Genachowski said.

Genachowski said mobile phones are used mostly to text, not make calls anymore. In remarks today at the Arlington County Emergency, he said the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 was an example of the system's limitations.

"Some students and witnesses tried to text 9-1-1 during that emergency and as we know, those messages never went through and were never received by local 9-1-1 dispatchers," Genachowski said in his remarks.

The FCC will take up the plan to update the current system in the Commission's December meeting, an "important first step," he said.

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