Soon You’ll Be Able to Text Photos to 911 in Baltimore

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As our phones have gotten fancier, our 911 systems have not kept pace.

That’s one reason for the $4 million grant Baltimore County just received to upgrade its emergency call system; Baltimore City’s move to what’s called Next Generation 911 is already underway.

Next Generation 911 is intended to allow emergency callers to not only call 911, but also send text messages, photos, and videos that will then be transmitted via 911 dispatchers to emergency responders. It makes sense: These days, the vast majority of emergency calls come from cell phones, which are able to provide much more than just a voice call. And such information could be incredibly valuable in a life-or-death situation–but it requires getting all new equipment that can handle those kinds of messages.

The Baltimore County equipment upgrade is due to be complete by next September, but it might still be months–or years–after that that you’ll be able to text 911. That’s due to other necessary steps in the process: upgrading software, training personnel, and coordinating with cellular companies to make sure their systems are integrated. Baltimore City’s switch is moving along the same timelines, though perhaps a bit slower since, as the Sun reports, they’re still looking for a vendor for the new equipment.

So while changes are coming, don’t try to Snapchat 911–yet.

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