Govt pilots new SMS emergency service

13 Jan 2012

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte, TD, today kick started the pilot of a new SMS service aimed at those who have difficulty in communicating verbally with emergency services, including deaf, hard of hearing and speech-impaired citizens.

The ‘112’ telephone number pilot follows a consultation that decided new technologies would enhance access for end users, other than traditional voice communication, and identified SMS as the preferred mechanism.

As SMS is not a ‘real-time’ communication technology, a six-month trial was decided upon.

“There are technical challenges which will have to be addressed, but I believe these can be overcome,” Rabbitte said.

“If you wish to use the service you will need to identify your location via text, and identify your home address when signing up to the service,” he added.

In order to highlight the availability of this service to the deaf, hard of hearing and speech-impaired community, a television programme will be aired on RTE television on 15 January The name of the program is Hands On and it is scheduled to be broadcast at 12:15pm on RTE1.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years