Ind. service now translates text-to-911 messages into 108 languages

People's emergency text messages will be automatically translated for dispatchers


Josie Clark
Greensburg Daily News

GREENSBURG, Ind. — The Indiana Statewide 911 Board, in collaboration with INdigital and the State Treasurer's office, is announcing another tool that enhances communications between non-English speaking citizens and emergency services.

Since 2019, dispatchers at all of Indiana's Public Safety Answering Points have had access to "Language Line," which provides voice translating services for 911 callers. Over the past three years, Indiana telecommunicators have used voice translation services for nearly 70 of the more than 250 languages available. Spanish is the most frequently translated language used, comprising 91% of the translation calls. Marion, Elkhart, Allen, White, and Tippecanoe counties are the top five users of the system.

Indiana was one of the first states to begin implementing text-to-911 services.
Indiana was one of the first states to begin implementing text-to-911 services.

Speaking at the Metropolitan Emergency Services Agency on March 31, Treasurer Kelly Mitchell (chair of the Statewide 911 Board) unveiled significant enhancements to the Text-to-911 system. Citizens can now send text messages in their native language directly to 911 for help, and they will be automatically translated for the dispatcher. As the dispatcher responds, it will be automatically translated back into the native language of the individual. 108 languages are available for Text-to-911 translation.

"From a sheriff's perspective, I want everyone to be able to call for help without a language barrier," Decatur County Sheriff Dave Durant said. "This really affects the dispatchers."

In 2014, Indiana was one of the first states to begin implementing Text to 911, and by 2016 all 92 counties had the capability. As a result, Indiana telecommunicators have processed over 1.3 million inbound and outbound text sessions. Director of Decatur County Communications Erika Free said she and her team use Text to 911 on a daily basis.

"The ability for our community to reach 911 in the case of an emergency is vital," Free said. "There are times when voice communication is not possible or unsafe and text to 911 has allowed us the ability to respond to those calls. This is another huge step forward for our community to remove the language barrier between our callers and telecommunicators and we appreciate all the efforts of the Indiana Statewide 911 Board, the State Treasurer's Office and Indigital to make this happen."

"With technology constantly evolving, this upgrade shows why Indiana is on the forefront in providing 911 services to our non-English speaking citizens," Ed Reuter, Executive Director of the Statewide 911 Board, said. "This new translation upgrade will help bridge the communication gap and speed up sending emergency services when every second counts."

For additional information, contact: Ian Hauer at (317) 232-6387 or ihauer@tos.in.gov

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(c)2022 the Greensburg Daily News (Greensburg, Ind.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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