IET renews push for ability to text 999

Door of the emergency ambulance car

Following a report from Ofcom, the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) has again highlighted its demand that the emergency 999 service be given an overhaul.

The IET called for radical changes last month, stating that emergency services should be offering 999 text message and app services in this digital age.

The regulator’s 2015 Communications Market Report was released on August 6 and found that nearly 70 per cent of British adults own a smartphone, an increase of more than a third from 2012. The IET has drawn attention to this new data as further evidence to reopen the debate, reports

Will Stewart, chair of the IET communications policy panel said: “Smartphones have become the hub of our daily lives and are now in the pockets of two thirds of UK adults.

“The data from Ofcom 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.”

Allowing people to text when they’re in danger could be of particular help to victims of crimes such as break-ins or abductions, enabling them to contact the emergency service silently.

Despite some challenges to overcome, such as enabling priority routing on UK mobile networks, Stewart feels confident it could be overcome and should be done as a priority, in order for the emergency services and wider NHS to keep pace with technological and social changes.

“Much of the technology we need to update our emergency service is available today,” he added. “But we urgently need to make progress now, with clear ownership from government and ministerial leadership.”