Get those “somebody’s breaking into the house” emoticons ready, because soon, you will be able to text 911. Yep, after a 3-2 vote, the Federal Communications Commission approved a new rule requiring cell providers to support text to 911 by the end of 2014.
In a statement, the FCC said, "Today’s action will make text-to-911 more uniformly available and keeps pace with how Americans communicate. Reports indicate that more than seven out of 10 cell phone users send or receive text messages.” The FCC added, “Text messaging is also widely used by Americans who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities." The new rules will also apply to third-party apps that, as the FCC put it, "enable consumers to send text messages to and from U.S. phone numbers." This would include popular apps like iMessage and Google Hangouts, which can act as your default text messaging service.
The bad news is only two percent of emergency responders can currently receive emergency texts, which doesn't bode well for this plan. Only 100 call centers in 16 states—including all of Vermont and Maine—are capable of receiving emergency texts. If you text 911 and the call center in your area isn't capable of receiving texts, you will get an automatic message that says it's unavailable. Does that response come with a frownie face? Because that’s definitely frownie Emoji worthy.