Digital cameras…camera phones… smartphones. These terms weren’t even in our vocabulary ten years ago, yet today, many New Yorkers carry this pocket-sized technology with them everywhere they go. One of the goals of the administration is to tap the potential of new technology and put it to work for city government. Recently, we took a big leap into the digital age by equipping the 911 and the 311 systems to accept photos and videos sent through mobile phones or uploaded through the city’s website at nyc.gov.
The idea is to empower New Yorkers to use the technology we’ve already incorporated into our daily lives to join the fight against crime and help improve our city’s quality of life. Here’s how it works.
If, for example, you snap a picture of a car as it flees the scene of a hit and run, call 911 to report the crime as you would normally, and then tell your operator that you have an image that might be helpful to the police. That operator will then notify our Real Time Crime Center, and you’ll get a call from a detective who will give you an address where you can send the photo via text message or email.
In the coming months, we’ll have the ability to instantaneously transmit the pictures or videos you send us to patrol cars in the vicinity of a crime. This technology should put all would-be-criminals on notice: escaping the law is going to be harder than ever when every police officer in the area knows exactly what you look like, or what kind of car you’re driving.
New Yorkers can also now upload photos and videos to help us improve the delivery of non-emergency services such as filling potholes, cleaning up graffiti in city parks or fixing street signs.