WTVM Editorial 1/8/16: Cities should support text to 911

WTVM Editorial 1/8/16: Cities should support text to 911

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - At the Northpoint Mall parking lot in Alpharetta, GA, about 25 miles north of Atlanta, an alert shopper saw two young children left inside a parked car.

Like most people, she knew someone had to call 911 to make sure the kids were safe. Unlike most people, she couldn't call 911 - because she is deaf.

Luckily for those young children left in the car, the City of Alpharetta has enabled their emergency services personnel to receive "text-to-911" messages from smartphones. Alpharetta was an early adopter of the technology.

But text to 911 is a technology that's not available everywhere although it is expected to gain in popularity as more cities embrace it, as a new way for hearing and speech impaired citizens to contact emergency responders.

We think it's a great idea.

Though no one knows how many hearing or speech impaired citizens would use the service, it only takes one dangerous situation, where police officers or fire department personnel are needed - fast - for it to be worthwhile.

Columbus doesn't have text to 911 yet, but it is using the Piper app and Bluetooth beacon technology to allow users to receive messages about city traffic, events or for help with in emergency situation.

The Piper app provides accurate location data so that response time is cut to a minimum.

We urge all our local communities in Georgia and Alabama to put text to 911 on a fast track, and to embrace beacon technology as well, so that more of our citizens can reach the authorities when they find themselves in harm's way.

General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to WTVM Editorial Committee or write to:

WTVM Editorial Committee
1909 Wynnton Road
Columbus, GA 31906

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