The state senate approved a bill Thursday, May 29, that will modernize California’s 911 infrastructure to receive texts from the public.

SB 1211’s author, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), said in a statement, “As we modernize our 911 system, my bill will help integrate texting to 911 into California’s statewide 911 system. Texting to 911 will enhance emergency response in hostage situations or home break-ins when a voice call would be dangerous.”

The current 911 communications system still relies upon the legacy switched telephone network. SB 1211 would require the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) to develop a plan for operating the next generation of Internet Protocol-based 911 emergency communications and transparently calculate the cost.

The four major wireless service providers AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon all agreed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s voluntary commitment to offer subscribers the ability to text to 911 by May 15, 2014, where it is available; however, many locations do not have Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) technically ready to receive the texts, , according to a bill analysis.

The bill has support from AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, along with the California Police Chiefs Association and the Utility Reform Network. No group has officially declared opposition.

The bill passed the senate on Thursday to a vote of 37-0 and is currently awaiting action by the assembly.

This story was originally published by Techwire

Amy Stewart  |  Staff Writer, Techwire.net

Amy Stewart is a staff writer with Techwire.net, a publication dedicated to the public-sector technology industry in California.