When it comes to communication with 9-1-1, there are important distinctions to be made about the variety of accessible text options.  Text communication has been an area of expertise for Hamilton® for decades and serves as a key component of the Next Generation (NG) solutions they offer.

Text messaging is the most used data service in the world.  As technology, and the reliance on mobile devices grows, publicly provided communication services face the ever-growing challenge of legacy compliance while implementing modern communication modalities.  The 9-1-1 industry and wireless carriers are preparing to implement a new wave of technology solutions.  With texting services as an established and heavily used source of communication, it is time to start examining how it may enhance 9-1-1 both operationally and for those who need emergency services.

What solutions are out there for text communications and how do they differ?

Not all text services are alike.  Text to 9-1-1 is a frequently used term that, while incredibly important, does not cover the broad scope of Next Generation solutions.  To understand the options available, it is best to categorize in terms of Text Telephone (TTY), Short Message Service (SMS) and Real-Time Text (RTT).

A unique device allowing people who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind or have difficulty speaking to communicate via telephone.  TTYs include a keyboard for typing one side of the conversation—and a screen on which the other party’s responses appear.  Though reliable, TTYs carry limitations such as slow operability, turn-taking correspondence and an influx of loud, garbling tones.  Although TTY capability has been integrated with 9-1-1 for quite some time, the arrival of alternate communication methods has led to diminished use of the TTY device.  Simply put, cell phones have become the most widely adopted device for text communication.

This is where we find the term, “Text to 9-1-1”.  Being the most widely known and used form of text-based communication, SMS brings many benefits to emergency services.  However, as a store-and-forward technology it does have some limitations.  Namely, there is no guarantee that SMS messages will arrive at the destination; in the order they were sent; or even in a short amount of time.

SMS operates solely through composed messages in lieu of phone call or voice capabilities.  This requires messages to be composed completely and for the user to intentionally send the message in order to deliver the correspondence.  Whether users are texting out of necessity or convenience, the drawback is that SMS is not yet universally implemented with PSAPs and does not operate ubiquitously for individuals with accessibility needs.

A fast and interactive means of conversing via text, RTT allows individuals to more effectively communicate with emergency responders.  RTT is a voice call with a text component, meaning that there is a phone call set up, throughout which an end user is messaging, characters are transmitted instantly while being typed, allowing a PSAP to respond in real time, like a voice conversation.

Most importantly, RTT will help solve current communication issues for those with accessibility needs or who have difficulty with voice-based communication.  Going forward, RTT will serve as the most inclusive and reliable solution for text communication with 9-1-1.

In an emergency, every second counts!

Hamilton NG911 believes in making each second of an emergency as efficient and reliable as possible.  When it comes to text solutions, it is vital to understand the difference between TTY, SMS and RTT and what they mean for Next Generation services.

Hamilton equips PSAPs with reliable text solutions from RTT to SMS.  Through Next Generation innovations, Hamilton NG911 meets the needs of modern-day emergency technology by providing services such as:

  • Next Generation Core Services (NGCS)
  • Cyber Security
  • Customer Premise Equipment
  • Data Analytics
  • Text Solutions

Hamilton NG911 is a leading provider of Next Generation 9-1-1 core services that allow emergency communications networks to accommodate modern communication methods.  If you would like to learn more about RTT contact us to book a free, exclusive RTT demo.

Another way to learn more is to watch our on-demand webinar on Text Solutions.

The future of 9-1-1 is now; Hamilton NG911 can take you there.