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6Aug/09

911 — Black Hawk down with SMS

Black Hawk County, Iowa has become the first in the nation to start accepting text messages sent to 911.

For now, the service only works for T-Mobile customers, and only those in the Black Hawk County area. Also, the physical hardware and software does not allow emergency operators to automatically locate callers, like they can using the E-911 (Enhanced-911) capabilities of most cellular and POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) lines--so dial-access is still the way to go for most people, in most circumstances. But, for those with physical impairments (all-thumbs?), or even temporary physical restraints (think hiding under a desk during an armed robbery), this could literally be a life-saver.

"Texting" has another advantage: it tends work where and when voice calls often can't, and requires very little battery life. Even stranded outside coverage area with a near-depleted battery, a text message is far more likely to "connect" than a voice call, and doesn't require a sustained signal to get the point across. Which, coincidentally, makes T-Mobile customers good candidates for the service.

Unfortunately, it's probably not going to do anything for response times, or T-Mobile's subscriber numbers. But, if it saves just one subscriber's life, that could make it all worthwhile--at least for T-Mobiles stockholders.

Via AP (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jQRysLdp0it9uIqDi_ytuMGxpotAD99ST5RG1)

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About Jeff M. Fischbach

http://www.twitter.com/FischTech Jeff Michael Fischbach is founder and President of SecondWave Information Systems (SecondWave.com), a consulting firm specializing in Forensic Technology. Since 1994, he has served as a board member and technology adviser to numerous professional organizations and corporations. Mr. Fischbach has been engaged as a litigation consultant and Forensic Examiner, offering expert advice and oversight on matters involving intellectual property, computers, information systems, satellite, tracking and wireless communications technologies. He has advised law enforcement, foreign government representatives, judges, lawyers and the press.
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