LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Emerging technology could soon change the way the government communicates with the public during an emergency.

KNX 1070’s Charles Feldman reports a San Fernando Valley congressman is leading an effort to modernize California’s use of new communications technologies for public safety and emergency services.

Senator Alex Padilla held an informational hearing in Sacramento on Monday that included testimony from the California Technology Agency and California Emergency Management Agency on the status of statewide deployment of new services such as Next Generation 911, which can allow for two-way communications during emergencies including via text, data, photos and video in real time.

While plans are still in the preliminary stages, Padilla – who chairs the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee – called for imminent 2013 and 2014 milestones for rolling out texting to 911.

“The Emergency Broadcast System has served the public and first responders well for more than 40 years, but blaring beeps on our TVs and radios are no longer the only way to communicate when there is an emergency,” said Padilla.

“With today’s modern technology, we’re envisioning a way to access emergency services in a way that’s much more helpful and immediate, as well as the ability for government to dispatch information to the public in a way that’s much more quick and meaningful.”

The hearing also addressed local agency deployment of reverse 911 emergency alert systems, the Commercial Mobile Alert System established by the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency now available to wireless customers, and public safety broadband networks.

But while there are a number of proposals still under consideration, Padilla said using mobile devices to communicate messaging from the government to the public is the wave of the future.

“Whether it’s texting, whether it’s calling, whether it’s sending videos in real time, that day will come, but it’s not here yet,” said Padilla.


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