The Suffolk police department has implemented technology that allows cell phone users to send a text message to a 911 call center during an emergency. An estimated 80 percent of 911 calls in the United States come from smartphones.
The “text-to-911” program can be particularly important in a case of domestic violence or active shooter situation when a voice call may be impossible. The technology also allows hearing- and speech-impaired individuals to contact 911 during a medical emergency, a more efficient means than the TTY system.
The system cannot accept group texts, photos, or videos and it is recommended that users not use abbreviations, symbols, or emojis.
The Suffolk system is funded on a surcharge to cellphone users and had an initial cost of $72,000 with an annual cost of $49,500.