Callers to New York's 911 and non-emergency 311 lines can now send photo and video footage from PCs or mobile phones - the better to finger ne'er-do-wells and report "quality-of-life problems like uncollected garbage", as AP puts it.
The city yesterday rolled out its $250,000 image software, developed over 18 months, as part of a major campaign to improve NYC's crime-busting IT infrastructure. Precincts now boast over 12,000 new computers, while technology in radio cars has been upgraded and the police department is "better able to share information".
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said that six years of overhauling IT systems had "helped reduce crime", which shows a three per cent drop so far this year in relation to 2007. He explained: "When I returned to the department in 2002, I saw that very little had changed as far as technology. We were still one of the world's leading users of carbon paper and Wite-Out. But that's changed significantly."
The image/video submission process is not, however, quite as Emergency 2.0 as it first appears. City officials explained that "911 operators will still function as emergency dispatchers", and "if the caller says that video or photos are available, a detective with the New York Police Department's Real Time Crime Center will call back to receive the images".
Nonetheless, Mayor Michael Bloomberg was moved to declare: "This technology should put a scare into every would-be criminal, because the chances of getting caught in the act is now better than ever." ®