A 911 dispatch center in Waterloo, Iowa, has become the nation’s first to allow emergency callers to seek help via text message, reports USA Today. Experts say it is likely the beginning of a trend that is certain to spread. Enabling 911 systems to accept text messages could help hearing-impaired callers and younger generations, it could allow callers to communicate in areas with poor reception.
Other counties and states are exploring this option. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety plans to create its network as early as this fall. Officials in Shelby County, Ala., are eyeing the 911 text services among other improvements to their dispatch center. A group of counties in southern Illinois may adopt the technology, but many local governments are waiting until federal standards and money become available.