Emergency text alerts

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Smartphones have become the hub of our daily lives and are now in the pockets of two thirds of UK adults, and the majority of young people.

The Ofcom 2015 Communications Market Report highlights the urgent need for radical changes to be made to the 999 emergency service so that those in need can text as well as call.

Much of the technology needed to update the service is available today. But we need to make progress, with clear ownership from Government.

A data-based emergency service would allow people to text alerts via an app with the alerts then passed to a human operator.

This needs to be arranged in consultation with mobile and app-based text providers, and with makers of new technology, like wearables that might aid or even make emergency calls.

Prof Will Stewart,

Institution of Engineering and Technology