PM Lee: Make the most of tech for special needs people

Singapore is in the lead for many technology rollouts, one of which lets citizens send a text message to emergency call takers instead of dialing in - a system which drew the praise of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. -- SCREENGRAB: SPF
Singapore is in the lead for many technology rollouts, one of which lets citizens send a text message to emergency call takers instead of dialing in - a system which drew the praise of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. -- SCREENGRAB: SPF

Singapore is in the lead for many e-government rollouts, one of which lets citizens send a text message to emergency call takers instead of dialing in - a system which drew the praise of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

In a Facebook post at noon on Sunday, PM Lee said he read an article about telcos in the United States offering a text-to-911 service last week for people who cannot hear or speak to report an emergency.

"I asked if we could do the same, and was glad to learn that we are already doing so," PM Lee wrote. "We should make the most of technology to improve our lives, and especially of people with special needs."

Singapore's version of the United States' text-to-911 service was launched as far back as 2008 under the iGov2010 masterplan to increase the reach and richness of government e-services.

The Emergency Short Messaging Service (SMS) Helpline, or SMS 70999 for short, is a joint initiative between the Singapore Police Force and the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) to let people who cannot hear or speak communicate with the Police during emergencies.

Only those registered with NCSS via their voluntary welfare organisations can use the SMS service; all others are advised to call 999 or report their cases at police stations. Unregistered text messages are filtered out, with an auto-generated message sent to the unregistered sender, to prevent abuse of the system.

For more information, vist http://www.spf.gov.sg/sms70999/