The Future of 9-1-1

Archive for September, 2008

NYC enables Pictures and Video with 9-1-1 calls. Kinda.

Posted by sip911 on September 23, 2008

NYC Press Conference

NYC Press Conference

I was excited to see that the largest city in the U.S. is enabling 9-1-1 callers to include video and pictures.  Articles are here and here.  Video is here:

“The long-term goal of enabling 311 and, along with 911, to receive pictures and videos is not only to better adapt these channels to the preferences of our customers by keeping them fresh and technologically innovative, it’s to help the City better deliver services,” said Paul J. Cosgrave, chief information officer of New York City.”

Kind of.  Sort of.

“The police operators that staff the 911 call center have been trained to enter a special code in the Police Department’s internal communications system every time callers offer photographs or videos in connection with their emergency.

The operators have also been trained to inform callers that a detective will be contacting them directly.

The coded entry into the communications system automatically alerts the Real Time Crime Center and provides the 911 caller’s telephone number.

A detective from the Real Time Call Center will personally call the victim or witness and provide a Real Time Crime Center address to which the photograph or video may be sent.”

So, I have an emergency.  I call 9-1-1.  I have useful information in the form of a picture or video.  I offer it to the call taker.  And then I wait for someone to call me back.

The mayor says (and I paraphrase):

“We don’t want to have the information sent with the calls.  We’ve separated the functions for recording and dispatch.”

Sure, this will work in some scenarios, but in others, like I wrote about last time here, where time is of the essence, it’s value is limited.  I’m curious how much of this is an operational decision.  I suspect that the technology doesn’t exist in NYC to handle this as part of one event.

Still, I give NYC credit for moving forward in this direction with the best tools they have.  Every step that demonstrates the potential will benefit callers and responders.

I’ll end on my soapbox by saying that our guiding principle should be: “Voice, video, text and other data should be sent to the PSAP in one message set and all should be transferred as needed.”


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