Emergency callers in Maryland soon will be able to text and send photos to 911.
The expanded emergency services follow approval by the Board of Public Works of the Maryland State Police purchase of a $7.1 million advanced 911 system.
With 70 percent of 911 calls coming in from mobile phones, it is time for state police to adapt technologically, said Del. Craig Zucker (D-Dist. 14) of Brookeville, a co-sponsor of the bill for the advanced 911 system.
The ability for 911 to also receive texts will help emergency callers who are unable to speak because they are in a hostage, or some other compromised, situation, Zucker said.
In addition, people arriving at an emergency scene will be able to send photos or videos, which can provide emergency officials with needed information on the severity of, say, a crash. The appropriate personnel and vehicles then can be dispatched, Zucker said.
“We’re really utilizing modern-age technology,” Zucker said.
In other cases, such as last year’s earthquake, mobile calls could not go through, but text messages did.
The Board of Public Works approved the contract to Frequentis USA of Columbia, a subsidiary of a European company, with a six-year contract. The advanced 911 will be piloted on the Eastern Shore, but is expected to operate statewide by next year.
Money for the system will come from the 911 Trust Fund, which is funded by fees charged by the state from those with telephones and cell phones, Zucker said.