911 to accept text, picture and video messages

(AP Photo, file)
"Emrgncy @ 10/B'way. KTHXBAI"

(CBS) - Let the socially awkward rejoice! 911 emergency response calls will eventually accept text, picture or video messages.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Julius Genachowski announced plans to add text and multimedia messaging to 911 emergency response calls. The plan was unveiled at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) Conference in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Genachowski's vision is a "five step action plan to chart the transition to Next Generation 9-1-1 services." The goal is to establish a new system of public safety answering points (PSAPs). These answering points will be able to receive text and multimedia messages, as well as voice calls, and will co-exist with the current system until a full transition can be made.

FCC Five-Step Action Plan to Deploy Next Generation 9-1-1

1. Develop location accuracy mechanisms for NG-911: The FCC's Location Accuracy proceeding (July 2011 agenda item) has launched development of a framework for providing automatic location information in the NG911 environment.

2. Enable consumers to send text, photos, and videos to PSAPs (NPRM): Next month, the FCC will consider an NPRM to accelerate NG911 adoption. The NPRM will help answer practical, technical questions about how to enable text, photo, and video transmission to 911, including how to ensure adequate broadband infrastructure to deliver the bandwidth PSAPs will need to provide NG911. As part of the NPRM, the FCC will examine interim solutions for ensuring that carriers/service providers support transmission of text-to-911.

3. Facilitate the completion and implementation of NG911 technical standards: For NG911 to be effective, we need technical standards for the hardware and software that carriers and public safety answering points (PSAPs) use to communicate NG911 information. The FCC will work with NG911 stakeholders to resolve NG911 standards issues and facilitate consistent and coordinated implementation of a standards-based architecture.

4. Develop a NG911 governance framework: Because no single governing entity has jurisdiction over NG911, the FCC will work with state 911 authorities, other Federal agencies, and other governing entities to provide technical expertise and develop a coordinated approach to NG911 governance.

5. Develop an NG911 Funding Model: To assist 911 authorities and Congress in considering NG911 funding options, the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau will prepare a cost model focused on the cost-effectiveness of the NG911 network infrastructure linking PSAPs and carriers.