New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the city will allow emergency 911 call centers and the popular 311 service line to receive digital photos and videos from callers, the New York Times reports. The city will be the first to incorporate digital images into its 911 system. Bloomberg called it a “revolutionary innovation in crime fighting.” In his state of the city address, he said, “If you see a crime in progress or a dangerous building condition, you'll be able to transmit images to 911, or online to nyc.gov.”
John Feinblatt, the mayor's criminal justice coordinator, could not say how long it will take to implement the plan, but said it would be fairly inexpensive because the technology already exists. “This is absolutely brand new for law enforcement, and it's absolutely new for a call center like 311, but by no means is it new technology,” Feinblatt said. He said the popularity of text and photo messaging and Internet services like Google and YouTube made this initiative a natural next step for emergency services. The city's 311 line, which Bloomberg started in March 2003, gets 40,000 calls a day from citizens reporting quality-of-life problems like leaky fire hydrants and potholes or inquiring about city services.