Control rooms  |  2024-06-09

Google and RapidSOS Bring the Ability to Text 911 with RCS to U.S. Emergency Call Centers

Curated by: Gert Jan Wolf - Editor-in Chief for The Critical Communications Review

Google and RapidSOS today announced that the companies will begin gradually rolling out RCS (Rich Communication Services) based text-to 911 to emergency call centers across the U.S. this winter. The rollout will start in areas where text-to 911 capabilities are currently not supported to close gaps in emergency communications coverage and provide new safety benefits. First available on Google Messages, emergency texting with RCS will bring critical safety communications capabilities to users, like being able to quickly confirm the delivery of a message, see if emergency responders are actively replying, send high-resolution images and videos of the situation, and automatically share location with emergency responders using Android Emergency Location Services.  

Today, U.S. Federal Communications Commission data indicates only 53 percent of U.S. 911 centers can receive a text message.

“For too long we’ve asked our first responders to manage millions of emergencies with little more than a voice connection,” said Brian Fontes, President of the National Emergency Number Association (NENA). “I’m excited to see that paradigm be transformed for 911 agencies across the United States.”

RCS based text-to 911 will be made available at no cost to every 911 agency across the United States. Rich Communication Services (RCS) is a modern, IP-based messaging service based on the GSMA’s universal RCS profile. Emergency texting with Rich Communications Services (RCS) builds upon a growing list of safety features for Android users including, the Personal Safety app, Emergency SOS, Scheduled Safety Checks, and Crash and Fall detection. Google continues to invest in the safety of its users by providing solutions to help protect them at home and on the go.