Diamond Chaflawee made some excellent points about the benefits of Next Gen 9-1-1. But it was his blog title, “What does Next Gen 9-1-1 mean for you?” that struck me as poignant – because “what Next Gen 9-1-1 means to me” is something very personal.
I have a daughter, and like most 21 year olds she uses a cell phone instead of a land line. And like most young people today she texts far more often than she talks. In that way, she isn’t so unique. But she isn’t exactly mainstream either.
You see, I have a daughter with a disability which, among other things, impairs her ability to be talk and be understood over the telephone. So if she needed to call 9-1-1, it’s highly likely that the call taker would have a difficult time understanding her. But with Next Gen 9-1-1, that will be less of a concern. Instead of calling, she’d be able to text for help. The call taker would know exactly where she was, the nature of her problem, and would be able to send the right people to help.
Next Gen 9-1-1 will expand how citizens can interact with 9-1-1. This is important for everyone, but especially important for the disabled. GIS and GPS could be used to locate people who can’t talk. Disabled callers could send a photo to indicate a problem, or a text or email asking for help. Next Gen 9-1-1 opens up the ways we can communicate. This makes us more inclusive and means better emergency service for all citizens.
Our society does not take much time out to consider the needs of the disabled. We have an ADA requirement that is out of date, out of touch, and more often than not only marginally complied with. In the downtown area where we live most of the restaurants are not handicap-accessible. There are sidewalks that are too narrow for a wheelchair, etc. So it’s nice to see that our nation’s Next Generation 9-1-1 system will offer a better solution for folks who are speech impaired and have other disabilities. My daughter will be safer with Next Gen 9-1-1. That’s what Next Gen 9-1-1 means to me.