New York City Council Members Laurie A. Cumbo, Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson introduced on Thursday Int. 868, a bill that would enable the City of New York to upgrade its current emergency communications system to receive text messages in addition to voice calls.
The bill would require the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) to create a plan that would allow the public to communicate digitally with emergency responders using the City’s 911 system which includes sending text messages, videos, and photographs.
As Chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues, Cumbo said the bill will aid survivors of domestic violence who are often unable to reach out for help due to an immediate threat. The goal is to reduce the fear that often prevents thousands of New Yorkers from seeking help.
“The ability to send photos and video via text will aid police officers with critical information to deter or address criminal activity,” said Cumbo. “Additionally, this bill would help expand our capacity to better communicate with youth, LGBTQ, legal and undocumented immigrants, the deaf, hearing or speech impaired, and mute communities.”
DoITT would be required to create this plan within 6 months of the effective date of the local law, and within one year DoITT would be required to either implement that plan or report to the Council the details of this plan and its expected implementation date. Several counties and emergency contact offices in upstate New York have a similar system already in place.
“As we enter the next generation of technology, we must ensure that our city’s emergency response system remains in pace and is equipped to connect all New Yorkers with the assistance they require,” said Cumbo.