NYC 911 callers can now send video, pictures

Starting this week, New York City residents will be able to send in pictures and video to the authorities, which could aid not only law enforcement, but city services.

New York City's $11 million Real Time Crime Center, launched in 2005, is now equipped to handle pictures and video sent via computer or cell phone, city officials announced this morning. In addition, New York's city services number 311 will also be receptive to pictures and video.

NYC 911 receives about 11 million calls per year, while the service line receives about 15 million per year, according to city estimates. Mayor Michael Bloomberg promised the service in his State of the City address earlier this year.

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"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," Bloomberg said. "By upgrading 911 and 311 to accept photos and video, we are bringing government accountability -- and crime-fighting -- to a whole new level."

Uses for the service include the reporting of potholes or broken water mains, downed power lines and traffic signs, or reporting crimes in progress. The multimedia could help significantly in identifying perpetrators of dangerous crimes.

Callers to 911 who tell dispatchers that they have video or picture evidence will be given special codes, and the NYPD's Real Time Crime Center will personally call back with an address to where the multimedia can be sent. For 311 calls, the operator will provide the appropriate nyc.gov Web page where the pictures or video can be sent. The city said up to three pieces of multimedia may be attached to any service request.

"When it comes to crime fighting, a picture is worth more than a thousand words," said Commissioner Kelly. "This is just one more tool to help the public help the police in our powerful partnership."

This new service follows the addition of a text messaging service to its Crime Stoppers program, where residents can text 2744637 ("CRIMES") and entering TIP577 along with their crime tips, which are sent to the NYPD.

City officials said that plans are in place to introduce additional infrastructure next year to further handle picture and video messages to its 311 and 911 services. IBM is the infrastructure supplier for the city's Real Time Crime Center.

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