New 911 service allows residents to share security camera footage with police

A new Chicago city service will allow residents to more easily share security camera footage with police. The Chicago Office of Emergency Management & Communications has added a new feature to its Smart911 platform, allowing users to volunteer security footage to police in the event of a nearby crime.

With the new tool, Smart911 users can update their profile to include information about a home security camera that captures the public way. In the event of a crime in the vicinity, police can reach out to Smart911 users to seek permission to view their security footage, the emergency management agency said.

Alerting Smart911 to the presence of security cameras does not allow police or the city to access the camera footage without the owner’s awareness, according to the city. Rather, it allows police to know where they might be able to view security footage. The new feature requires users to opt-in on the Smart911 platform.

“Video evidence is often a key component to solving crimes, recovering stolen property and holding offenders accountable,” Police Supt. David Brown said in a statement. “This latest initiative is another example of partnership that contributes to making the city a safer place for everyone to enjoy.”

A Smart911 profile allows dispatchers to immediately access information about a caller that can help first responders. Information on a profile can include address, medical information, language proficiency, disabilities and if a house has pets or service animals.