You Can Now Text 911 With RCS in Google Messages

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Key Takeaways

  • Google is partnering with RapidSOS to bring RCS support to 911 texts via Google Messages.
  • Rollout begins winter 2024, starting with areas where text-to-911 is not currently supported.
  • You’ll be able to share high-res images, videos, and your precise location with emergency responders via text.

Google has announced it’s bringing RCS support to 911 texts via Google Messages, in partnership with emergency technology company RapidSOS.

The rollout starts this winter, with call centers that don’t currently support text-to-911 services the first to be upgraded before rolling out to all 911 call centers across the country.

Rich Communication Services (RCS) support will allow you to confirm when your message has been delivered and see when emergency responders are actively replying. You’ll also be able to send high-res images and videos to give a clearer picture of what’s happening and allow emergency services to respond effectively. 

With Android Emergency Location Services, it will be possible to share your exact location and opt-in medical information, as well as your language settings, to assist emergency responders.

Texting 911 in Google Messages

Support for RCS has grown in recent years, with Google working to include RCS features on most devices. Apple has promised RCS support on the iPhone this year, likely iOS 18 — though we’ll know for sure after its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 10th. Also, though Google Messages is specifically mentioned, other messaging apps that support RCS should theoretically be compatible with the new service.

According to The Verge, text-to-911 capability was first rolled out to select areas back in 2014, but uptake was slow, with the service only available in a few major cities. Nowadays, things haven’t changed much —  from Google’s recent blog post, only 53% of all 911 call centers in the US can currently receive texts, with many unable to receive pictures or videos. 

You might need to text rather than dial 911 if you have a hearing impairment or other accessibility issue that makes calling difficult. Or you may need to text in situations where it’s not safe to call – for example, if you’re being threatened with violence, or if intruders break into your home and you need to discreetly contact emergency services. This upgrade, which will be free to all 911 call centers, will make that possible for everyone, regardless of location.