Next Generation 911 Solutions: Real-Time Text for 9-1-1

Posted in All, NGA911 on Oct 14, 2021

In an emergency, every second counts. Depending on the particular situation, contacting 911 via phone call may not be an option. Real-time text, or RTT, is a capability included with NG911 solutions. As a leading provider of Next Generation 911 Core Services, NGA 911 offers RTT to help public safety agencies respond to emergencies more efficiently.

RTT can be used by anyone, at any time, as long as you have the app on your smartphone, tablet, or smartwatch. NGA 911’s customizable software easily handles real-time text (RTT), giving first responders every tool they need to save and protect more lives.

In this blog post, our team at NGA 911 will discuss:

  • What RTT is
  • How real-time text (RTT) works
  • Why RTT is important for first responders
  • What sets real-time text apart
  • RTT benefits for public safety agencies and the general public

What is RTT?

RTT is a key feature of NGA 911's Next Generation 911 Core Services. RTT stands for Real-Time Text. It allows for real-time text communication between Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs), Emergency Call Centers (ECCs), dispatchers, and the general public through text messaging.

With real-time text, individuals and first responders can send different types of multimedia including potentially life-saving information to public safety agencies.

Examples of these include real-time text messages with:

  • Videos of an accident or injury
  • Voice messages regarding details of a 911 situation
  • Pictures of an emergency and its location

RTT is also incredibly helpful for individuals with speech and hard-of-hearing concerns.

How Does Real-Time Text Work?

Next-Generation 911’s Real-Time Text (RTT) allows you to communicate with an emergency professional without having to have to say a single word. RTT works by having the emergency telecommunicator and the 911 caller engaging in a text message conversation in real-time.

NGA 911’s real-time text feature has the same interactivity and directness as a phone call due to its immediate transmission of typed characters. As such, this innovative technology delivers greater communication access for the general public and all those working in the public safety industry.

Understanding The Importance of RTT for Emergency Responders

For 911 telecommunicators, dispatchers, and first responders to protect the public successfully, modern technology is essential. This includes RTT!

With real-time text from NGA 911, text messages are transmitted instantly as they're being typed; character by character. RTT-capable emergency agencies and responders can immediately read these texts as written.

This means that the dispatcher won't need to wait for:

  • Individuals to press "send"
  • The individual to finish typing
  • Network to deliver the message

If the sender can't complete the text message, the telecommunicator can still see and read the start of the message. This allows for the PSAP or ECC professional to interpret the conversation and take necessary action from there.

What Sets RTT Apart?

While SMS and MMS texting messaging are effective communication tools, they're designed primarily for smartphone devices. RTT differs from SMS and MMS. Having real-time text capabilities is crucial for contacting and communicating with 911 professionals, especially during an emergency.

Because NG911's real-time text doesn't use standard messaging applications, there is no concern for:

  • Network congestion
  • Message delays
  • Text delivery interruptions

The 911 RTT session begins with the user opening the capability on their smartphone and tapping the real-time text icon to start the session. Once begun, the person dials 911 and the standard location identification and call-routing processes occur.

The PSAP or ECC gets a special notification regarding the RTT call and texting screens open at both ends of the call. The telecommunicator can see the text message characters being typed as they happen.

RTT conversations are a two-way street. This means that there's constant communication between the user and the emergency response professional, something that's sorely needed during an emergency!

Essential Benefits of RTT

For the general public:

  • Provides real-time texting to 911, including capitalization and punctuation
  • Allows for direct emergency communication for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing
  • Makes 911 services more accessible to individuals with speech concerns
  • Offers voice-messaging capabilities helpful for individuals who are blind or have vision issues.
  • Instant text messaging and multimedia features accessible during any emergency situation

For public safety professionals:

  • Allows first responders to communicate instantly and directly with the individual during an emergency
  • Provides 911 callers with more characters for typing
  • Can combine RTT with geospatial technology to find caller’s exact location
  • Real-time access to vital incident information
  • RTT technology can uniquely identify situations via text, photos, and voice


When the unexpected happens, instant communication between 911 callers and public safety professionals can mean more lives saved. Next Generation 911’s RTT provides PSAPs with the ability to talk with and receive information from the public in real-time.

By providing Next Generation Core Services, NGA 911 is doing its part in helping 911 professionals protect and serve the public!

Do you want to know more about RTT for 911?

Connect with our experts at NGA 911 today to get started!