State of Maryland approves 911 text-message program

State of Maryland approves 911 text-message program

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WBFF) - Marylanders will soon be able to text 911, instead of just calling it.

Maryland's Public Works board unanimously approved a two-year, $2.4 million contract Wednesday to TeleCommunications Systems, Inc., of Annapolis.

The new technology, called Text to 9-1-1, lets people send an SMS text message to 911.

Frederick County was originally chosen for a 2015 pilot program for the texting service, as it features the Maryland School for the Deaf, according to a news release from Gov. Larry Hogan's office.

"This new technology is a vital public safety tool that could potentially help save the lives of citizens who find themselves in an emergency situation," said Hogan in a statement. "I want to commend the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services for their hard work to implement this system for all Marylanders."

Text to 9-1-1 supports 160 characters per message but does not allow multimedia, like photos or video, to be sent, according to the news release.

More than 70 percent of all 911 calls now come from cell phone users, according to the FCC.

The new program will be funded by the Maryland Emergency Numbers System Board.

"The Hogan administration clearly recognizes the importance of ensuring that all Marylanders have access to emergency services," said Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Stephen Moyer in the statement. "Text to 9-1-1 is a major step in modernizing our systems and giving citizens the ability to reach first responders when a call isn't feasible."

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