You Should Be Able to Text 999 Emergency Services, Says Report

By James O Malley on at

People in need of the emergency services should be able to text 999 and use apps to communicate, according to a new study.

Digital Spy reports that the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) has said that apps and messaging could reduce delays during busy periods.

Professor Will Stewart, chair of the IET's Communications Policy Panel is quoted as saying "Communications have changed drastically since the 999 service was designed in 1937 - so there is a critical need to update the service"

According to V3 the report recommends the creation of common standards for user interfaces and sharing data - so that phone manufacturers can bake in "smart" 999 support into their devices, and so that emergency services can pull the data they require, such as GPS location. They want the 999 "app" to look uniform across devices, so everyone will know how to use it instinctively.

V3 quotes Stewart explaining more reasons why such an app would be useful:

"Given that young people are statistically more likely to be victims of crime or accidents, it is a concern that making a voice call to contact the emergency services is not something that would feel natural to them.

"A girl alone in a mini cab who becomes worried about her personal safety might feel unable to make a call on her mobile phone, but could send a text or alert someone over social media.

"And in the case of certain crimes, such as abduction or a break-in, a silent text or app-based alarm system would be more appropriate and instinctive than the current voice-based one for everybody, irrespective of their age."

The IET apparently plans to lobby all of the political parties and stakeholders to encourage them to develop this plan. It'll be interesting to see what happens. [Digital Spy and V3]