Next-generation 911 system will accept text messages, photos

Genachowski said 450,000 of the calls received by dispatchers every day come from mobile phones, which are increasingly used to text and send pictures. By updating the system, callers would be able to send pictures of crime scenes or accidents to dispatchers; additionally deaf persons would be able to communicate by sending text messages.

"The Virginia Tech campus shootings in 2007 are a tragic, real-life reminder of the technological limitations that 911 is now saddled with," Genachowski said. "Some students and witnesses tried to text 911 during that emergency and as we know, those messages never went through and were never received by local 911 dispatchers."