NYC Emergency Hot Line Systems Get Upgraded

With camera phones, text messaging, and e-mail now ubiquitous, it was only a matter of time before antiquated emergency systems were upgraded to take advantage of these technologies. Making good on a promise made during a State of the City address, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has just announced that NYC's emergency and customer service hotlines are now able to accept photos and videos.

"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 Mayor 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."

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, DoITT Commissioner Paul J. Cosgrave

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 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. With call volumes like that, these upgrades to the hot line systems could require massive amounts of storage. Someone get Western Digital on the line...