Austin: Largest Texas city without Text-to-911

Text '911' in Central Texas and this message comes up. - Sept 2015

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Emergency communications leaders in Greater San Antonio, Dallas, Arlington and Houston all established text-to-911 systems in the past year – and all months before FCC compliance dates, federal records show.

But where does Central Texas stand?

Mark June 2016 on your cellular phone’s calendar as the expected compliance date for Central Texas to launch the service, according to Gregg Obuch, Emergency Communications Director at the Capital Area Council of Governments or CAPCOG. It’s the multi-government entity that oversees regional planning issues in Central Texas’ 10-area counties.

The four big U.S. cellular providers announced their readiness to provide text-to-911 service in May 2014–in line with federal guidelines that came out the year before. The task then fell to more than 30 emergency call center managers around Central Texas to install receiving equipment and train staff.

Obuch tells KXAN the switch is ready to be flipped on the equipment once a couple of administrative steps are completed:

  • Oct. 14, the Capital Area Emergency Communications District Board will vote on recommendations to launch a Request for Proposals to hire a Text Control Center Provider to manage the system
  • Once a provider is selected and accepted the Board in January 2016 will issue a Notice of Intent to go forward with the project.

The FCC established a six-month compliance guideline once that Notice is sent out. Obuch expects the CAPCOG-backed text-to-911 system would be up and running well before that.

KXAN reported last spring how CAPCOG wanted all 10 area counties to have text-to-911 ability in place before rolling out the system. That complicated recipe played a part in the pace of the implementation, experts said.

Obuch expects CAPCOG will stage a public information campaign beforehand to inform the public about the system’s arrival and how to use it. The FCC has an outline of what to expect here.

For now, if you text ‘911’ you’ll receive this message:

Screen grab of what shows up when you text '911' in Austin - Sept 2015
Screen grab of what shows up when you text ‘911’ in Austin – Sept 2015

 

Emergency providers remind everyone you need to still dial the number in an emergency.

Cities that have Text-to-911

  • Greater San Antonio, activated May 2015
  • Cameron County (Harlingen, Brownsville), activated May 2015
  • Lubbock, activated April 2015
  • Galveston, activated April 2015
  • Dallas, activated March 2015
  • Odessa, activated February 2015
  • Arlington, activated December 2014
  • Greater Houston, activated December 2014
  • Wichita Falls, activated December 2014

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