Launch of SMS 70999
The Emergency Short Messaging Service (SMS) Helpline, or SMS 70999 for short, is a joint initiative between the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the National Council of Social Service to offer members of the deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech-impaired community another avenue of communication between these users and the Police in times of emergencies. This project is supported by the Ministry of Finance and the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA). Five Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) - Canossian School, Centre for Enabled Living, Singapore Association for the Deaf, Singapore School for the Visually Handicapped and TOUCH Silent Club - are partners of this initiative.
This service is similar to SPF's existing emergency hotline (999), but is targeted at people with hearing and speech impairment. Members of the deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech-impaired (DHS) community may experience difficulties in contacting emergency services using a mobile phone because they cannot hear the spoken words very well. Currently, it is not possible to send text messages to `999'. Therefore, Police have created a special number 70999 for text messages during emergency situations only.
SMS 70999 is only available to registered DHS members who have registered with NCSS via their voluntary welfare organizations (VWOs). To prevent abuse of the system, all unregistered text messages will be filtered out and an auto-generated message will be sent to the unregistered sender to inform him/her that this service is only for registered DHS members. They would be advised to call 999 or report their case at the nearest Police Station if they require police assistance or services.
Once an SMS is received from a registered user, Police operators would confirm if practicable, the nature of the incident or request for help with the user via SMS, before dispatching officers to the scene. If the incident requires fire or ambulance related services, Singapore Civil Defence Force would also be alerted. Registered DHS members would also be able to use an unregistered mobile number for this service by including their NRIC number in their message. This service is provided at no cost to the users. However, normal SMS rates will apply when messages are sent by the users.
SMS 70999 is currently available only to DHS members who have registered with the designated VWOs. DHS members who are not registered may register with the Centre for Enabled Living or the Singapore Association for the Deaf.
This initiative is aligned with the strategic vision of iGov2010 masterplan to increase the reach and richness of government e-services, where the government pro-actively reaches out to connect everyone in Singapore through the use of infocomm. The safety and security of the DHS community will also be enhanced. This service had been launched at Police's Workplan Seminar on 5 May 08 by Mr. Wong Kan Seng, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs.