A few months ago Verizon was experiencing some problems with dropped 911 calls in a few parts of the country. While that problem has long been solved, it got me thinking, if you can’t call 911, what number should you call?
911, for those of you outside the U.S.A., is the universal phone number to call for emergency assistance, or to report a crime. There is no single, central location where these calls are handled. Rather, your call is routed to the nearest dispatch center, depending on your location. VoIP and cellular calls to 911 present unique challenges in determining location, and properly route calls.
Since 911 should be used only to save a life or stop a crime, reporting a non-life-threatening issue to a 911 operator may cost someone precious moments while they wait for you to finish your call.
How can you report an issue without tying up a 911 operator, or call for help when 911 isn’t working? Phone books (do they still make those?) have a section that lists the phone number for local police, fire, and medical services. That doesn’t help if you’re in a car, riding mass transit, on a bike, or on foot. Of course, you’re a pocketnow reader, you have a smartphone with an Internet connection on your hip or in your pocket. How can you use those to your advantage?
Using Google Places, a cell phone with geo-location (GPS helps, but isn’t necessary), and your data connection, you can quickly and easily find the address and phone number to the local law enforcement or emergency response agency. Check out the video below to see how its done.