NYC: 911 to Accept Digital Images From Cell Phones

Citizen crime-fighting just got a little more high-tech. From The New York Times:

    “If you see a crime in progress or a dangerous building condition, you’ll be able to transmit images to 911, or online to,” [New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg] said in his annual State of the City address. “And we’ll start extending the same technology to 311 to allow New Yorkers to step forward and document nonemergency quality of life concerns, holding city agencies accountable for correcting them quickly and efficiently.”

Well, well, well. Isn’t that positively space age? The mayor emphasized that the new feature will not require new technology, but will use existing tech adapted for 911 use.

    “Imagine someone caught in a hostage situation transmitting pictures or video,” he added. “It’s just an incredible amount of information that can be gathered from fairly simple technology.”

We’re all Batman now. —MEGHANN MARCO

Plan Will Allow 911 and 311 Lines to Accept Digital Images [New York Times] [Photo: moriza]


Edit Your Comment

  1. gaelic47 says:

    I don’t want to give anyone any ideas here, but I’m pretty sure that someone’s gonna send in a dick pic with the caption “My cock is so big it’s a crime!”

  2. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I’d say that woman in black looks to be a crime in progress…a crime against fashion! ZING!

    I live in the tri-state area, and saw this on the news. I think this is a great idea. Of course, it opens up to more complications, as a picture can lie.

  3. Scazza says:

    Altered, I scanned down the front page and the first thing I was was that lady in black… without even reading the post I had to comment…

    Anyway, this should be implemented everywhere, its an excelent idea… I just hope you don’t get charged for the kb

  4. TheUpMyAssPlayers says:

    Wow, reporting crime with a camera phone, that’s f*cking progressive.

    I have no words to describe my ever-growing love for this city.

  5. Kornkob says:

    A picture can lie but not as easily as a witness can make a cognitive mistake or a person can fail to communicate a problem clearly, efficently and effectively.

    I was once at an injury accident once in which I was the closest non-involved witness. I heard some pretty wildly differing stories about what happened and some were flatly incorrect (I was directly behind the struck vehicle and saw the accident coming before anyone else– including both drivers).

    The point is that images don’t tell the whole story but neither does anything else. But by putting images together with witnesses — with time stamps on the images and possibly GPS information from teh phone if they dig for it— they can tell a much more complete story.

  6. kerry says:

    Oh man, I hope Chicago picks this up. I love the helpful folks at 311, and would love to be able to send them pictures of the stuff I normally call them about. If they built a database people could query with SMS, like Google Mobile, it would be even better.

  7. Will this work in the other direction? For example, will the police be able to send Amber Alerts to people’s cell phones?

  8. smartastic says:

    “Imagine someone caught in a hostage situation transmitting pictures or video,” he added. “It’s just an incredible amount of information that can be gathered from fairly simple technology.”

    you would think that hostage holders would know enough to relieve their victims of their cell phones

  9. Little Miss Moneybags says:

    Wireless Amber Alerts are already available.

  10. viriiman says:

    Rectilinear Propagation: Then can as of now, at least in NJ

  11. Citron says:

    Rectilinear, the FBI also can send to text messages about when “new information is added” to their website. “It’s a fast, effective way of keeping our partners and the public informed about terrorist threats, missing kids, wanted fugitives, emerging scams, major cases . . .”

  12. Citron says:

    Whoops! Submitted too soon. Anyway, I think that picture messaging 911 is a fantastic idea.

  13. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    Kerry: There are no helpful folks at 311 in Chicago!
    They’re there to keep you from calling directly to a department.
    I’ve given out my street name to them & I had this question asked of me: “Are you sure that’s in the city, not a suburb?”

  14. If a government agency sends me data or text through my cellular phone, am I going to get charged for that usage? Who is going to foot the bill? Is there going to be another ‘recovery fee’ added to my current phone bill?

    Or will I be charged for sending the information to the police? (petty i know) What if I witness a crime that makes it a crime for me to witness because I didnt do anything to stop it? Will the act of sending in the image effectively nullify any rights I might have claimed under the fifth amendment? What if this becomes so common place that somebody else takes a picture of the crime with me in the background NOT reporting the crime? Will I be held responsible for stepping forward and providing information about the crime?

    I’m starting to get a bit recursive with my questions, but I hope you all agree that these are some good questions to ask yourselves. As of now, this is an awesome progressive policy for a city to adopt, but when will it go from a good idea to a required idea?

    By the way, loved the batman comment. Embarassingly I chuckled out loud, drawing the curious glances of co-workers.

  15. kerry says:

    @Greasy Thumb Guzik –
    Weird, I’ve had a lot of helpful people at 311, and when they couldn’t directly help me they transferred me to the appropriate department. I haven’t had to use it in about a year, maybe the service has gone downhill?