NYPD and Microsoft team up for launch of advanced crime-fighting system

Crime fighting has stepped up a gear in New York with the NYPD teaming up with Microsoft to create what’s called the Domain Awareness System (DAS), a sophisticated crime prevention and counter-terrorism tool that aggregates and analyzes a slew of incoming and existing data quickly and efficiently, enabling officers to make better informed decisions about how to proceed with a line of inquiry.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled the new tech at a press conference in Manhattan on Wednesday.

“We’re finding new ways to leverage already existing cameras, crime data and other tools to support the work of our investigators, making it easier for them to determine if a crime is part of an ongoing pattern,” the mayor said at the launch. In other words, no new surveillance equipment is being installed for the system; DAS should instead make the incoming data a whole lot more useful for NYPD officers.

Developed by Microsoft software engineers, together with input from NYPD cops, the system pulls in and makes sense of data from around 3,000 surveillance cameras, 2600 radiation detectors and 100 licence plate readers located around the city. Information from police databases is also utilized by the software. “All the information is presented visually and geographically and in chronological context,” police commissioner Raymond Kelly said. A demo of the system can be viewed in the video at the end of this article (from the 12:50 mark).

The NYPD’s Jessica Tisch demonstrates DAS.

As for Bloomberg, he clearly places a lot of value in state-of-the-art tech tools when it comes to fighting crime. “Part of the reason we have been able to continue driving down crime to record lows while devoting considerable resources counter-terrorism is our heavy investment in technology and our willingness to develop new, cutting-edge solutions to keep New Yorkers safe,” the mayor said in a statement.

He added, “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.”

Kathleen Hogan, corporate vice president of Microsoft Services, said the computer giant was “honored” to have had the chance to work with the NYPD.

It seems like DAS could even prove to be a money-spinner for the NYPD and Microsoft, with future sales of the system to law enforcement agencies around the world set to be split 70/30 in Microsoft’s favor. Bloomberg remarked that any profits would be plowed back into crime prevention programs in the city.

[Image: Ian D Walker / Shutterstock]  

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