911 texting to launch soon in Roanoke City

People in the Star City will soon be able to send text messages to the Roanoke City 911 Center in an emergency situation.

Over the next week, the city will be testing it's new texting system with large cell service providers.

Following those tests, the city says it's ready to launch as soon as the cell companies send the system live.

Roanoke City 911 Manager, Mike Crockett, hopes to see the system up and running within a few weeks to a month.

Today was the agreed upon deadline set by the Federal Communications Commission and large companies like AT&T and Verizon to make the texting service available to 911 centers.

Now, it's up to the local centers to install the necessary equipment and finalize plans with each company to make their system live.

Roanoke City has been working to prepare for this launch since September.

It was important to the 911 division to be ready to go as soon as the cell companies were capable of making the service available.

Crockett says keeping up with the latest technology is a priority for the city. He explained, "That's something Roanoke has always been known for is that we invest heavily in not only 911, but police, fire, and public safety and providing safety to the community. It's paramount that people feel that they are safe."

This service is not meant to replace the practice of calling 911 centers.

It's intended for anyone who is deaf or hard of hearing.

It's also can be used by someone who is in a situation where talking on the phone puts them in more danger.

Crockett doesn't anticipate the new system will be used frequently, but says it's still an important addition for the people who need it.

Other centers around the area like Roanoke County and Salem hope to launch their systems' sometime this summer or early fall.


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