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Soon New Yorkers will be able to text 911 for help

NEW YORK — New Yorkers in need of police, paramedics or firefighters will be able to text 911 for help by early 2018, city officials announced Tuesday,

The service has been around since 2009. New York City’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications put out a request this week for vendors to assist in building the necessary technology to support the infrastructure.

“Our number one priority is keeping New Yorkers safe, and developing the strongest, most state-of-the-art 911 system is essential to that mission,” said First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris. “In the 21st century, that means ensuring that New Yorkers who need to communicate with 911 can do more than make a phone call—we want to give them the ability to send photos, stream video, and more.”

Paramedics, firefighters, EMTS and police officers are dispatched to thousands of sites throughout the city every day. They depend on the 911 system for that.

Officials advise that if you are able to make a voice call to 911, and if it is safe to do so, you should always make a voice call to 911 instead of texting. Calls to 911 will let emergency services find your location automatically, that is not the case with text messages. But the new service will still be critically important for those who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired.

“The ability to quickly communicate with the public on a variety of platforms is essential in keeping this City safe,” said NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill.