999 Emergency SMS Service Launched

An ESMS service enabling registered users to make contact with emergency services via SMS is being launched in a trial initiative organised by the Royal National Institute for Deaf People together with the Government and telecommunications providers including BT, Cable & wireless, O2, Orange and Vodafone.

Whilst you would have thought a service like this would have required extensive testing before being publicly launched, the RNID is asking for members of the public with hearing loss to help them “test” the service during the pilot:

After the 14th September 2009 you can register to use the “pilot service” by registering at http://www.emergencysms.org.uk ALTERNATIVELY you can sign up by texting the word ‘register’ to 999 (after which you will have to accept the terms and conditions in order to activate the service).

You can download the “emergencySMS leaflet” here (188KB, PDF) or contact the RNID Information Line who will post you an explanatory leaflet.

*** UPDATE 27 January 2017 ***

Some great figures being published on the success of the Emergency SMS service over on the Limping Chicken blog:

Screen Shot 2017-01-27 at 15.21.47.png

With 214,000 people registered to the service to date the challenge is now set to now make the service accessible to the whole population as so far the service hasn’t even become accessible to 5% of the people in the 11 million people in the UK with hearing loss or 25% of the 900,000 people with severe or profound deafness.

Perhaps just taking a mobile first approach is what’s needed as I can think of countless other reasons citizens would like to be able to SMS emergency services and emergency services would prefer to be managing SMS contacts e.g. replacing the outdated “Silent Solution” service with preset ready-to-send SMS messages.



About David Doherty

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5 Responses to 999 Emergency SMS Service Launched

  1. MM says:

    Deaf won’t take part in this survey. Many of us already have text access to the police,and because it took 60 odd years for such a system to emerge we have got our own now. There is also reluctance to register by deaf for this service, who feel why ? hearing do not register for 999 do they ? and it doesn’t answer the problem of no support when the police/fire/ambulances turn up. We’d 50 times be more likely to phone a friend or a relative.

    The issue is widespread ABUSE by hearing clowns who if we put a deaf text number in the public domain will make it unworkable. I registered with my local police a while ago, and was told about phone scams as hackers logged in to the purported ‘safe’ text option for deaf.

    Another issue is deaf do not support the RNID, and ofocam already slated their typetalk systems because deaf could use them properly. The RNID et al never ASKS the deaf what they want or listens to reservations, it just goes blindly on. This system will I think help Hard of Hearing more than us, who seem to have been left out !

  2. @MM: Thanks for your visit/comments.

    I completely agree with your concerns, unfortunately it’s a live service and NOT a SURVEY which i think could prove problematic.

    I must admit I can see an important need, which in many ways is a kind of formalisation of the service smart people like you have already managed to develop for themselves.

    The phone scams really sound a nightmare… I’d be grateful for more info on this if you have any.

    I would like to see this service designed so it is much more useful. Some features I’d like to see added might include:

    a) a more comprehensive registration of user details eg. medical history, next of kin, emergency contacts, work/home address

    b) Provision of SMS templates to the registered users mobile eg. I am at home and there is a fire

    c) Building a 3G Smartphone solution upon a comprehensive registration process. This would include accurate GPS location, 3G Video Calling, intelligent/predictive messaging application, Video/Stenographer Triaging for when emergency responders arrive onsite.

    Would find it very interesting to discuss in more detail these and any other ideas…

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