Chicago Becomes First City With Citizens Sending Photos, Videos to 911

Call takers at Chicago's 911 dispatch center won't ask callers whether or not they have any images to send because they don't want to waste time explaining how to transmit a photo, but if a caller brings it up, they'll happily accept one. "No other city does that right now," Jose Santiago, executive director of the city's Office of Emergency Management and Communication, told the Chicago Sun-Times, referring to Chicago's willingness to accept photos and videos from callers and distribute them to detectives and first responders.

Santiago is warning Chicagoans not to jeopardize themselves by trying to take pictures of shootings in progress or other violence. A call or text message works just as well in those situations, he said.

All the images received so far have been law-enforcement related, Drew said.

The city's dispatch system already scans for any surveillance cameras within 150 feet of a call. Any real-time video then gets put up on the call taker's screen with a map.

The images from 911 callers will allow authorities to analyze emergencies more objectively, Santiago said.

They also can be used as evidence in a criminal case, he said.

"Callers have a tendency to become confused or excited during an event," Santiago said. "Pictures don't."

But some city officials worry the program won't gain much popularity, pointing to the Txt2Tip initiative that allows people to text-message tips to the police. That program never met the department's expectations.

Read the full story at the Chicago Sun-Times.

Presented by

Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis. The only problem? He has to prove it works.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Technology

Just In