GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) — A South Jersey police department is using smartphone technology to help in emergencies. Officials in Gloucester Township unveiled the new 911 system on Monday.
New technology, like live streaming, can provide even more information when people in trouble call for emergency services. The goal of the new 911 system is to help first responders react better to emergencies.
Eyewitness News went behind the scenes in the dispatch center for a live demonstration.
After a $400,000 system upgrade, dispatchers can now see video from callers through a new program called 911eye.
“This will now give a fresh look at the immediate 911 call that we may have not had an opportunity to have before, as opposed to us waiting to arrive on location with a body camera,” Gloucester Township Police Chief Harry Earle said.
#Gloucester township NJ police launch a new 911 system that allows callers to now livestream video from their cell phone, no app needed; dispatchers text a link to caller to start livestream from scene @CBSPhilly pic.twitter.com/ULTQpBvj6S
— Chantee Lans CBS Philadelphia (@ChanteeLans) August 26, 2019
The department held a live demonstration to explain how it works.
When a person calls 911, the dispatcher sends a link to the caller’s smartphone. No app is needed.
That link allows the caller to use their cellphone camera to show dispatchers their surroundings in real time in the form of a live stream.
The dispatcher then sends that live stream video to the officers on scene. The demonstration depicted a caller streaming live video of suspicious activity.
“Everyone carries their cellphone. I think we have to adapt to that process and have to utilize 911 as certainly a necessary public safety component. But the phone is capable of so much more and I think as a public safety agency, we have to tap into that resource to make people safer,” Earle said.
The live-stream capability is part of a $400,000 upgrade funded by township taxpayers. New electronic desks allowing dispatchers to stand during their shifts is also part of the upgrade.
“It was incorporated into a entire upgrade of the entire communication center,” Community Relations Bureau Commander Lt. Mark Benton said.
Police say it has been 17 years since they made any major software upgrades to the dispatch system. Gloucester Township Mayor David Mayer says the new technology is long overdue.
“We’re going to capitalize on the technology that is out there and continue to make Gloucester Township a very safe community,” Mayer said.
The 911 system is up and running. They started rolling out the system this past weekend.
CBS3’s Chantee Lans reports.