"Call 911!" is a phrase often screamed, at least in movies. Now, New York City politicians are pushing for a bill to allow residents to text 911, too.
The legislation would let New Yorkers text the emergency call service describing their situation, and also send photos and videos from the scene.
The texting option enables the caller to contact 911 in situations where voice calls are dangerous or impossible.
"There's all sorts of cases where for safety or anonymity, voice calls are just not appropriate," said Councilman Mark Levine, a Manhattan Democrat and co-sponsor of the bill. "Maybe there's an assailant in your home and you don't want to alert them that you're hiding under the bed."
Texting 911 could also be highly beneficial for domestic violence victims.
The change could provide another avenue of assistance for domestic abuse victims. Many fear repercussions from his or her attacker if they are found to be calling for help.
"Many survivors and those impacted by domestic violence have talked about the inability to reach out for help," co-sponsor Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo of Brooklyn told the New York Daily News. "We're in a new era and we have to utilize technology as much as we can."
The ability to text 911 could also encourage younger people to contact the service.
Levine said that young people who are hesitant of calling the cops in an emergency might be more open to texting.
The bill gives the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications one year to lay out a plan launching the technology, but there is no deadline given for it to start running.
The cost of "next generation" 911, as it's known, is unclear. But Levine said it would be "considerable" — possibly in the tens of millions.
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