Society, Tech

Tweeting 999 – No Laughing Matter

Texting on a qwerty keypad phone

Texting on a qwerty keypad phone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently in both the USA and UK emergency services have announced plans to allow people to inform them of an emergency via other modern communication methods like texting, Facebook and Twitter.

Cue howls of laughter and derision from writers about how it’s typical of our lazy society that people can’t be bothered to look up from their phones for thirty seconds to phone 999 or 911.  For once I partly disagree.

Normally I too would think it’s another example of people’s disconnection from others, that they wouldn’t want to actually speak to someone, they’d be happier texting etc.  And for some that may be true.  It could also be open to abuse by those who already troll the existing services using fake accounts, names and addresses.

But consider someone who can’t use a voice service – someone in peril and hiding; someone unable to speak or hear whose only form of communication at that moment is a mobile or a computer; someone who has no phone available but does have, for example, a 3G tablet; even someone who for perhaps psychological reasons can’t talk to someone on the phone.  Any communication would be better than none.

The emergency services have said that this is an attempt to enable communication with them through modern technology – this forward thinking should be admired not laughed at.  Or maybe we should abandon the new-fangled phone too and go back to bells and whistles.