ANNAPOLIS, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - Lawmakers in Annapolis are about to take up a bill that will transform the way you communicate with 911 — allowing smartphone users to send text messages, photos and video — but if approved, it will also increase your phone bill.
These days, it seems our smartphones are rarely out of reach and almost constantly in our hands. We are always texting. It's become routine.
If you find yourself in trouble, and can only text, there is only one county in Maryland that can handle that kind of communication.
That's where Senator Cheryl Kagan (D-MD) steps in. The Democrat from Rockville says she has broad support for statewide Text-to-911.
"Currently, if you are hiding in your closet and there is a bad guy in your house you have to actually call 911 and say, ‘Hi, there is a bad guy in my house... I live at 123 Main Street,’ — with next generation 911, you will be able to send a text,” said Kagan.
Users can even send a video or photo that may help first responders find them easier during an emergency.
The bill would also upgrade all 911 centers with technology that would be able to pinpoint the exact location of your smartphone.
The technology is now available in the District of Columbia and in Prince George's County.
Kagan says 911 centers statewide are underfunded and her bill will help solve that problem by adding an additional 25 cents to each phone line you have.
“Currently, the one dollar fee that we all pay covers only an average of 37 and a half percent of each counties' 911 centers... that's not okay,” said Kagan. “That means that money that could have gone to and should have gone to our schools, to our roads, to our social service needs are instead being diverted to cover the 911 costs.”
The Text-to-911 plan got a favorable response, but the extra .25 cents per line had some people thinking.
A hearing is set for next Tuesday.