September 10, 2008 By News Report
Photo: New York City fire emergency
New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, DoITT Commissioner Paul J. Cosgrave and Criminal Justice Coordinator John Feinblatt today announced that, fulfilling a promise the mayor made in his state of the city address, callers to 911 and 311 are now able to send photos or video to assist in crime fighting and report quality of life complaints.
Callers to 911 will be able to send photos or video from a cell phone or computer to the NYPD's Real Time Crime Center, where relevant images may be used to assist in crime fighting or in responding to other emergencies. The public will be able to send pictures and videos from computers and Web-enabled cell phones and PDAs to accompany certain 311 quality of life complaints. The New York City Police Department receives approximately 11 million 911 calls annually and the 311 Customer Service Center receives approximately 15 million calls each year.
"I built a business on the idea that we could improve companies' performance by delivering better information instantaneously, and I've tried to bring that same philosophy to government," said Bloomberg. "By upgrading 911 and 311 to accept photos and video, we are bringing government accountability -- and crime-fighting -- to a whole new level. If your cell phone is equipped with a camera -- and many are these days -- you might be able to get a picture of something that will help the police solve a crime."
"When it comes to crime fighting, a picture is worth more than a thousand words," said Kelly. "This is just one more tool to help the public help the police in our powerful partnership."
"The bedrock of effective law and quality of life enforcement is good information, and gathering it begins with the public," said Feinblatt. "The upgrades we're announcing today give the public the power to add pictures and video to their reports when they call 911 or 311, meaning they can be the city's eyes and ears like never before."
"311 and nyc.gov already have 'any day, any time, anywhere' accessibility, and today's announcement furthers that commitment," said Cosgrave. "By enabling our customers to interact with the city in a way that keeps pace with the technology they are using, such as submitting video to accompany their complaints, we not only keep these channels fresh and innovative, but also help city agencies provide better, more efficient service."
Sending Photos and Video to 911
The police operators that staff the 911 call center have been trained to enter a special code in the Police Department's internal communications system every time callers offer photographs or videos in connection with their emergency. The operators have also been trained to inform callers that a detective will be contacting them directly. The coded entry into the communications system automatically alerts the Real Time Crime Center and provides the 911 caller's telephone number. A detective from the Real Time Call Center will personally call the victim or witness and provide a Real Time Crime Center address to which the photograph or video may be sent.
Depending on the case, the images may be shared widely with the public, with police officers on patrol, individual detectives or other law enforcement agencies. The images may also be used in concert with the Real Time Crime Center's powerful data mining and link analysis capacity to identify and locate suspects as quickly as possible. The images may also be used to help in assessing and responding to emergencies.
The new 911 capacity comes a month after the NYPD added text messaging to its Crime Stoppers program. In addition to calling 1-800-577-TIPS, members of the public may now text message crime tips anonymously by texting CRIMES or 274637, and then entering TIP577.