Kennesaw’s Police Department introduced the first in a progression of technological updates for the emergency response system last week with the unveiling of texting capability for 9-1-1. Text messaging services can now contact the 9-1-1 emergency hotline from any phone on a wireless plan, in hopes to reduce the possible danger of voice messages.
The Police Department and 9-1-1 directors stressed that the new update should not replace traditional voice messages. They recommend only texting in necessary situations, including when speech would cause danger, a medical problem causing loss of speech, or when the caller possesses a voice or hearing impairment.
Kennesaw’s Communications Director Pam Davis, who released the first information on the new system to the city, commented on the importance of continuing voice calls: “Using a phone to call 9-1-1 is still the most efficient way to reach emergency help. Texting is not always instantaneous, which is critical during a life-threatening emergency. It may take slightly longer to dispatch emergency services in a text to 9-1-1 situations because of the time involved.”
A downside of the new development lies in its location abilities. Because of modern texting technology, the caller must provide an exact location to the hotline because tracking can only be as accurate as the closest cell tower. Furthermore, texting also requires the use of proper grammar, only using the number in emergency purposes, and not creating group messages.
As the text capability for 9-1-1 continues growth, the technology grows as well. For now, text messages report directly to the Cobb County Police Department and relay to Kennesaw or Acworth. Updates in the future will introduce direct contact with city departments.
Cobb County 911 Director Ann Flynn hopes to increase the services reach for the safety of the entire county’s citizens. “The safety of residents and visitors in Cobb County is our number-one concern. Texting 9-1-1 could be a lifesaver, especially for people who might otherwise not be able to make a voice call,” Flynn said.
While not overshadowing the original 9-1-1 phone call, the new texting capability represents a push towards the future of emergency services and the prolonged safety of the Kennesaw community.