Nationwide, barely a quarter of call centers are equipped with the ability to receive 911 texts. Advocates say it’s time for 911 texting to be available everywhere. Charlotte-Mecklenburg dispatch centers are one step closer to implementing a statewide recommendation to provide 911 texting. Testing has begun on a new, enhanced 911 system for the county.
Around North Carolina, 117 primary 911 answering points have the ability to receive texts, but only 99 have completed the process to make it a reality. Across the country, 911 texting is available in dispatch centers in almost every state except Alaska, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and South Dakota.
There’s still room for growth — it’s in only a fraction of the cities across the 146 counties in the Carolinas, including Cornelius. Cornelius has had limited 911 text-ability since 2015 when the North Carolina state 911 board recommended it.
So what’s taking everyone else so long?
“Each center has to essentially work with the wireless carriers and work with their vendor for their 911 system in order to make text to 911 a reality for that specific center,” Cody said. North Carolina is working on creating the infrastructure to move all next-generation 911 services to one statewide digital platform to be shared by all public safety answering points by July 2021.
“I think it just provides another way for people to communicate with the police and to connect to us,” Thompson said. 911 texting for all of Mecklenburg County should be available in the first quarter of 2020, so January at the earliest and March at the latest.