PALO ALTO (KCBS) – Palo Alto Congresswoman Anna Eshoo has introduced legislation for a program that could one day allow a person to make a 911 call via text from your cell phone.

Several Bay Area cities are already moving to implement the “Next Generation 911” system that will enable emergency dispatch centers to accept texts, cell phone photos or even video from people reporting an emergency.

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KCBS’ Rebecca Corral Reports:

“This is next generation technology that our call centers across the country need to have,” said Eshoo.

The Palo Alto Congresswoman has introduced a bill that would provide federal money to help local agencies buy the new technology.

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“I think it’s time to modernize our 911 system so that we can keep up with the changes and ensure that call centers remain reliable,” she said.

The technology does exist as Palo Alto, Mountain View and Los Altos are getting ready for a “virtual consolidation” of their dispatch centers. That will allow them to share equipment and help each other during busy periods.

But there are some concerns. For example, 911 dispatchers are trained to listen not only to words, but also the tone of a caller’s voice, a level of information that can’t be transmitted in a text.

Eshoo’s bill would provide $250 million in grants for state and local governments over the next five years to implement the new system.

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