Availability of Text-to-911 in Colorado
RED = Counties with no ability to receive text messages sent to 9-1-1.
YELLOW = Some parts of the county have text-to-911 and others do not. Click on the county for more information.
GREEN = Counties with the ability to receive text messages sent to 9-1-1. (Note: Not all carriers may be in compliance.)
In December of 2012, the four largest cell phone providers, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon agreed to offer text-to-911 nationwide in their service areas by May 15, 2014. View a full copy of the agreement here. Currently, this service is available in Colorado on a limited basis. The process for beginning to receive text-to-911 service at your PSAP will work like this:
- Prior to making the request, the local 9-1-1 Authority must determine that the PSAP is capable of handling the text messages in a format that can be delivered by the carrier. Different options are available for how text-to-911 messages can be received by the PSAP:
- Text-to-911 calls can be received through an Internet browser. This service is offered at no charge by TCS and a nominal cost for the security token through West.
- In a computer-telephony integration (CTI) system, or computerized phone screen, if the software is able to handle text messages. To determine whether your phone equipment can receive text-to-911 messages, contact your equipment provider.
- As a TTY call. The carrier in this case will convert text messages to ASCII so that they can be received and replied to using the same equipment the PSAP uses for communicating with callers using telecommunications devices for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. This method is not recommended, as it can cause errors in the messaging and also ties up one of your 911 trunks.
- The local 9-1-1 Authority must request text-to-911 service for their Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) from every carrier providing service in your area or complete the FCC's PSAP Text-to-911 Readiness and Certification Form.
- Once the carrier receives the request or the FCC publishes your readiness, the carriers will have six months to begin delivering text messages sent to 911 to the PSAP.
The Federal Communications Commission has ordered all wireless carriers and interconnected over-the-top messaging services to provide this service to every call center that requests it starting December 31, 2014.
Things for PSAPs to Know about Text-to-911
There are certain things local 9-1-1 Authorities should be aware of prior to attempting to implement text-to-911 service.
- Text messages can be routed to a different PSAP than cell phone calls. If you want text messages to be routed to a different PSAP than a cell call to the same tower would be, you should to establish this with the carrier prior to implementation.
- Phase II location data may not be available. Depending on the solution used by the carrier, location data associated with text messages to 911 may be restricted to the location of the cell tower. Verifying the caller's location will be extremely important.
- Once a text-to-911 is received by a PSAP, any additional texts from that phone will be routed to that same PSAP, even if the caller crosses into another jurisdiction.
- This is considered an "interim" solution for texting to 9-1-1, and will only work with texts sent via SMS (Short Message Service). If a caller attempts to attach a file, such as a photo or video to the text, or to send the text to multiple people including 9-1-1, the network will attempt to send the text as an MMS (Multimedia Message Service), and the text will not be delivered to 9-1-1.
- All carriers are required to provide a bounce-back message in areas where text-to-911 is not currently available. Anyone attempting to send a text message to 9-1-1 in those areas should receive an automated reply advising them to call 9-1-1.
- Text messages sent via “over-the-top” texting applications are deliverable to PSAPs.
- If the caller is “roaming” on a network other than their own, and the roaming provider does not provide text-to-911 service, then the message will not be delivered.
- Telephone interpretation services for processing calls from individuals who do not speak English do not currently support text message translation. Online resources such as Google Translate should be made available to dispatchers, but it should be made clear that automatic online translation services are not equivalent to human translation services and are only an interim solution.
Requesting Text-to-911 for Your PSAP
When the PSAP is ready to provide Text-to-911, the PSAP should notify the FCC.
- Visit the FCC web site at www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/psap-text-911-readiness-and-certification.
- Download the Form.
- Fill out the Form. The Form requests the following information:
- Date of submission;
- Name and contact information of person submitting the form;
- PSAP facility information, including FCC-issued PSAP ID number, long-form name of facility, physical address, and county of operation;
- PSAP point of contact information for Text-to-911 coordination;
- PSAP method to receive texts (e.g., Text-to-TTY, Web Browser, Direct IP or other
- Identification of the authorizing state or local entity; and method);
- Certification that PSAP is technically ready to receive texts.
- Email the completed Form to: T911PSAPREGISTRY@fcc.gov.
The FCC will register your readiness in their Text-to-911 Readiness and Certification Database, which shall serve as notification to carriers that you request the service.
Read the announcement about the database dated Dec 30, 2014.
For further information about text-to-911:
- 911.gov's Text-to-911 Page
- A Resource Center presentation on text-to-911 delivered at the 2013 Colorado APCO/NENA/CCNC Conference.
- The Colorado 9-1-1 Resource Center's Issues Page.
- The FCC's Best Practices for Implementing Text-to-911.
- The FCC's Text-to-911 Page.
- The FCC's Text-to-911 Quick Facts Page.
- NENA's Text-to-911 resources
- NENA Information Document for Handling Text Message Calls to 9-1-1 in the PSAP
- Office of Emergency Communications Text-to-911 Presentation
- Text-to-911 Policies are available on the Sample Docs Page.
- Using Google Translate for Text-to-911