Google Adds RCS Feature for Texting 911

Google today announced that it is partnering with emergency technology company RapidSOS to allow U.S. Android users to text 911 in emergencies using its Rich Communication Services (RCS) protocol.

google emergency services rcs
When it is not possible to call 911, Android users will be able to send a text instead to get emergency help. The texting feature will provide precise location information to emergency responders, and it will let users send high-resolution photos and videos.

Texting 911 will be available to U.S. Android device owners who use Google Messages, but because it is a feature baked into ‌RCS‌, it could also expand to other devices like the iPhone. Later this year, Apple plans to adopt ‌RCS‌ to replace SMS/MMS.

The option to text 911 via ‌RCS‌ will roll out to emergency call centers across the United States starting this winter. In some places, it is already possible to text 911 over SMS, but not all emergency call centers support the technology. Google is aiming to bring texting to all call centers, and to improve the ability to send photos and videos with ‌RCS‌. Google says ‌RCS‌ for emergency 911 texts will bring the following benefits:

  • Confirmation that an emergency request has been delivered and viewed.
  • The ability to see if an emergency responder is replying to a message.
  • Options for sending high-resolution photos and videos to more accurately relay what's going on in an emergency situation.
  • Precise location sharing, language settings, and opt-in medical information sharing.

Google says that it is working with "partners across the industry" to expand access to emergency services through ‌RCS‌, and that it wants to make ‌RCS‌ the "standard for emergency services texting everywhere."

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Top Rated Comments

relaxedpanda Avatar
2 weeks ago

that sounds useful, but gotta ask, when is it not possible to call 911? need cell/internet service in either case...
Be thankful that you've never had to think about or do this

These early comments are already so annoying. People complaining about Google offering more ways for people in life threatening or needing urgent help from their first responders. Get a grip everyone, this is a good thing for the world to have. We are so lucky to have technology and resources to have something like this
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ProbablyDylan Avatar
2 weeks ago

rcs îs stupid though. such a terrible protocol
What about it is? at a minimum, it's no worse than SMS.

when is it not possible to call 911?
Hypothetically, if I'm hiding in a closet from armed home intruders, the last thing I want to do is speak.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mystery hill Avatar
2 weeks ago

that sounds useful, but gotta ask, when is it not possible to call 911? need cell/internet service in either case...
Hearing-impaired callers.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
boss.king Avatar
2 weeks ago

that sounds useful, but gotta ask, when is it not possible to call 911? need cell/internet service in either case...
When you’re deaf?
Or have a speech impediment?
Or it’s really loud where you are?
Or you can’t make noise for your own safety?
Or you’re just more comfortable texting than talking on the phone?
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
miamialley Avatar
2 weeks ago

that sounds useful, but gotta ask, when is it not possible to call 911? need cell/internet service in either case...
Like you don’t want someone to hear you make a phone call. Text need less signal to get through and can keep trying. I would prefer to text 911 as it’s more accurate and instant. I’ve never understood why it’s not utilized more and more broadly available.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sw1tcher Avatar
2 weeks ago

that sounds useful, but gotta ask, when is it not possible to call 911?
When the person who needs help is mute
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)