Solving Cities

NYPD, Microsoft unveil new crime-fighting technology

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New technology will make it easier for law enforcement to tap into security data.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a partnership with Microsoft that has brought about new law enforcement technology.

The New York City Police Department along with Microsoft jointly developed the Domain Awareness System, a new counterterrorism and policing tool. The technology is meant to quickly aggregate and analyze all relevant and available data from sources such as the city's 3,000 closed-circuit TV cameras or license plate readers.

"This new system capitalizes on new powerful policing software that allows police officers and other personnel to more quickly access relevant information gathered from existing cameras, 911 calls, previous crime reports and other existing tools and technology," Mayor Bloomberg said in a statement. "It will help the NYPD do more to prevent crimes from occurring and help them respond to crimes even more effectively."

According to city officials, here are a few of the ways in which the system will be used:

  • Investigators will have immediate access to information through live video feeds, and instantly see suspect arrest records, 911 calls associated with the suspect, related crimes occurring in the area and more;
  • Investigators can map criminal history to geospatially and chronologically reveal crime patterns;
  • Investigators can track where a car associated with a suspect is located, and where it has been in past days, weeks or months;
  • Police commanders can query databases to map, review and correlate crime information with the deployment of resources;
  • If a suspicious package is left at a location, the NYPD can immediately tap into video feeds and quickly look back in time and see who left it there; or
  • If radiation detectors in the field set off alarms and alert the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative command center, the new system will help quickly identify whether the radioactive material is naturally occurring, a weapon, or a harmless isotope used in medical treatments.

Should we be concerned about an invasion of privacy with this technology? Capital New York reports on Mayor Bloomberg's response:

"We are very concerned about staying within the law, within court decisions, we believe we do that, but I think it's a fair thing to say today, if you walk around with a cell phone, the cell company does know where you are at all times," said Bloomberg, adding, "And that's just something you're gonna have to learn to deal with."

Financially, the agreement was a good one for the New York, which will not only get sophisticated law enforcement technology, but will also receive 30 percent of the gross revenue Microsoft gains from worldwide sales of the new system.

Photo: Flickr/Runs With Scissors

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure