A text message is a 160 character, bite-sized chunk of text. But its tiny presence has transformed the communities around us. From safety outreach programs to crisis management, here are four ways that text messaging is making the world a better, safer place.
1) Texting to Keep People Healthy
“Going viral” is not a phrase you want associated with your health. This last winter, New Yorkers were encouraged to stay flu-free by texting “FLU” to 877-877. After texting in, users are asked for their zip code to find the nearest flu shot. Users then received an automated text message detailing the exact location of the nearest vaccination center. With just two simple outbound text messages, individuals—and their communities—were safeguarded from contracting the flu and spreading it to others.
2) Texting to Keep Roads Safe
Lincolnshire, England made national headlines when it decided to implement a system that allows people to text information directly to the police when they see drunk drivers on the road. Citizens who are not behind the wheel are encouraged to call in drunk drivers, but fear of social repercussions hold some people back. Others may stay quiet simply because they don’t know exactly who to contact. Because a text message is discreet, quick, and easy, many are calling this text message service a revolutionary approach to keeping the roads safe.
3) Texting for Teens in Crisis
When you’re a teenager, fear and embarrassment can often silence you when you should be speaking up. Fortunately, there’s an organization that listens to what teens have to say, no matter the issue. DoSomething’s Crisis Text Line allows teenagers to text in their questions and concerns and receive immediate, real-time professional support over text message. Anything from depression to sexual health questions are handled in a discreet, comprehensive, and personable manner. The service has seen overwhelming success with a population who need both full disclosure and full privacy.
4) Texting 911
All four of the United State’s major mobile carriers—AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint—just approved texting 911 as an alternative to phone calls. Although the program is currently only in effect in a few states, it is expected to be accessible everywhere by the end of 2014. Other communities world wide already include a text 911 option in their emergency outreach. Windsor, Canada, for instance, allows the hearing impaired to send emergency texts to the police. While this program holds obvious value for the deaf, its discreet feature can benefit users nationwide. Domestic abuse cases, teenagers who fear social repercussions, and any situation where cellular reception limits voice calls but allows text messaging are just a few examples of times when texting 911 can be a life-saving service.
These are just a few examples of the way text messaging is changing our world. Want to find out how you can make your community safer through text messaging? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.