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Can't Call 911? Just Text

(CBS)
Waterloo, Iowa (CBS/AP) Who would have guessed that the first emergency call center to accept text messages sent to "911" would be in the basement of a county jail in Waterloo, Iowa? Not us.

Call centers around the country are now looking to follow in the footsteps of this tech-savvy town, which will begin accepting emergency texts on Wednesday.

Some 911 call centers can already receive text messages, but require an intermediary service to do so. The Waterloo system will accept incoming 911 texts directly.

For now, only subscribers to i wireless, a local carrier affiliated with T-Mobile, will be able to use the service, and only within Black Hawk County. Those on other carriers will get a reply saying they need to call 911 instead.

Intrado, a company that provides 911 support to local carriers, is working with other carriers to help them handle 911 texts as well. As a future upgrade, call centers may be able to receive photos and video from cell phones as well as automatically track the caller's location, which could help emergency responders prepare for an accident scene or identify a suspect.
  • Sammy Saltzman

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