Aldermen Call For Modernization of City's 911 System To Keep Pace With Cell-Phone Technology

February 7, 2007

Aldermen Edward M. Burke (14th), Margaret Laurino (39th) and Isaac
Carothers (29th) today urged the City of Chicago to study ways to
incorporate technology that would allow 911 callers to send cell-phone
pictures and text messages from emergency scenes.
The aldermen introduced a resolution calling for public hearings on
the matter before a joint panel of the Committee on Finance, the
Committee on Economic, Capital and Technology Development and the
Committee on Police and Fire.
"The ability to receive images directly from the scene of an
emergency could be extremely helpful to emergency responders," Alderman
Burke said. "As the saying goes, a picture tells a thousand words."
The trio of committee chairmen called for the City Council to hold
the hearings just weeks after New York City announced plans to study a
similar proposal.
"Let's bring in technology experts and see what's out there in the
way of possible upgrades to the 911 system," Alderman Laurino said. "We
have a responsibility to our residents not only to provide them with
up-to-date technology, but also with the best measures of public
The resolution specifically cited a December 8, 2006, shooting that left three dead at a Loop law firm.
"At a recent shooting at 500 West Madison Street, a bystander text
messaged her husband to inform police of the shooting; if the 911
Center had the capability of receiving text messages, the bystander
could have texted emergency personnel directly," the resolution stated.

The aldermen also wish to study whether an upgrade can be made to
the Emergency 911 system that would allow it to track the exact
location of cell-phone users who call for emergency assistance.
"While it is true that technology moves very quickly and may have
outpaced some aspects of our emergency 911 system in recent years, it
would be a shame not to find ways to upgrade our system so that we can
take advantage of it," Alderman Carothers said.
Added Alderman Laurino, "Text messaging has become part of our
'technology culture.' All cell-phone service providers offer text
messaging and teens routinely stay in touch with friends using it. The
City of Chicago 911 system needs to first catch up, then start
utilizing advanced technology."
For more information contact Donal Quinlan, media liaison, at 312-744-6237.,CST-NWS-emerg07.article