In August 2012, New York City announced it would partner with Microsoft on an analytics platform that could collect and analyze public-safety data in real time. If the system worked as planned, it would help the police uncover (and hopefully stop) potential threats.
That Domain Awareness System would draw data from 911 calls, previous crime reports, license-plate readers, law-enforcement databases, and thousands of closed-circuit cameras scattered around the city. It would rely on the New York City Wireless Network (NYCWiN), a high-speed wireless broadband infrastructure designed to allow city agencies to rapidly transmit data. Total bill: roughly $30 million.
Fast-forward to several months later, and the Domain Awareness System has apparently proven such a success that Microsoft is looking into prospective buyers for a similar setup. According to The New York Times, New York City would receive a third of any gross revenues earned from the sale of the system, as well as “access to any innovations developed” by the new customers.
“The interest from the United States has come from smaller municipalities, from sheriff’s departments, and police chiefs from several major cities,” Dave Mosher, vice president of Microsoft Services, told the Times. “Outside the U.S., large sporting events have approached us, and also law enforcement—people who are interested in providing public security.”
The New York City government insists they keep tight control over how the system is used, in order to prevent abuses, and cites several instances in which integrated surveillance allowed police to stop terrorist attacks or accurately assess crimes in progress. “We’re not your mom and pop’s police department anymore,” New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said when the system was unveiled, according to Gothamist.
On a more analytical level, the platform allows police to create geospatial and chronological views of crime patterns, as well as query databases to correlate crime statistics with officer deployment and community engagement.
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