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.

Does This Child Need Marijuana?

Dravet Syndrome is a severe form of epilepsy that affects children. Could marijuana oils alleviate their seizures?

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

Does This Child Need Marijuana?

Inside a family's fight to use marijuana oils to treat epilepsy

Video

A Miniature 1950s Utopia

A reclusive artist built this idealized suburb to grapple with his painful childhood memories.

Video

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her school. Then the Internet heard her story.

Video

A History of Contraception

In the 16th century, men used linen condoms laced shut with ribbons.

Video

'A Music That Has No End'

In Spain, a flamenco guitarist hustles to make a modest living.

More in Technology

Just In