Texting 911? Minnesota working on upgrade this fall


In the next two years, people in need of emergency help won't even need to call 911 to get responders at their door. Minnesota will start work this fall to upgrade the 911 system to accept text messages as well.

The upgrade will also include other features like tying some of your vital health information with your phone number. If you had a heart monitoring device, that detail would go to the call center when you dial 911.

The texting would be a big boost to emergency services for the deaf and hard-of-hearing as well as people in situations that make it dangerous to make a phone call. A town in Iowa started accepting 911 text messages yesterday and is the first in the country to do so.

The Waterloo, Iowa call center will start by just accepting calls from i wireless, a cell phone service affiliated with T-Mobile. They hope to expand in the future and could even start accepting photos or videos from witnesses to help identify suspects or prepare for a situation.

The service could also be helpful for kidnap victims who in the past would text family or friends when they were unable to call for help in a particular situation.

Call center officials still say calling will be the preferred way to contact 911 because of the ability to quickly interact with the operator, but the texts will be another feature offered to help people.

Watch the KSTP report on Minnesota's 911 system: