August 9, 2019
Calling 911 and requesting assistance can be a real challenge for people who are deaf or have a speech disability. In the coming months, Google will be rolling out a solution to this problem.
Users will be able to communicate the type of help they need, as well as their location, without speaking. Here is how it will work: After dialing 911, the user will be able to select the type of emergency: either “Medical,” “Fire” or “Police”. An automated voice will then communicate this information to the emergency dispatch professional. The phone will also transmit the user’s location using GPS, as well as the caller’s plus code—”another reliable way to help emergency services accurately locate” someone, according to Google. Note that the user will always be able to speak to the dispatch professional if they can.
All of this magic will occur on the device itself, which will have two benefits. First, it will ensure user privacy. Second, the service will work without a data connection.
Google’s new emergency service will roll out over the coming months on Google’s Pixel smartphone devices and additional select devices, which have not yet been disclosed.
This new service will be a great alternative to text-to-911 in cases where the user does not have time to text or does not have the ability to text due to the nature of the emergency. Also, quite a few emergency dispatch centers still do not support text-to-911.