New York City Shows New Law Enforcement Technology

Officials believe a new situational awareness platform is a true one-stop shop for public safety data.

by / August 8, 2012
Mayor Michael Bloomberg (right) and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly (left) unveil new law enforcement technology that aggregates and analyzes public safety data in real time Spencer T. Tucker

Top New York City officials on Wednesday, Aug. 8, revealed capabilities of a next-generation situational awareness platform being used in the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative Command Center.

The software, called the Domain Awareness System, is New York City’s attempt to build a truly one-stop shop for crime and counterterrorism data that’s accessible in real time to New York Police Department officers and other law enforcement personnel.

Architected by the NYPD with technical assistance from Microsoft, the system brings together the city’s many data sources — from license plate readers, radiation detectors, 911 call information, public and private surveillance cameras, criminal records and incident reports, and predictive analytics — into a single dashboard tailored to aid police work. The information is presented visually on maps and is organized chronologically.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Wednesday during an afternoon press conference that the new software is allowing personnel to more quickly access data from existing technology, consequently helping public safety to respond more quickly. The technology also is helping the NYPD to deploy officers more efficiently he said.

“The entire system is designed to improve how New York City’s police officers do their jobs, and that makes it a potentially valuable tool that we can expand to precincts and boroughs across the city,” Bloomberg said. The software might also be useful for other applications besides public safety, he added.

Officials said the system is useful for refining leads and identifying patterns, for apprehending suspects, and for responding to criminal incidents and terrorist threats. It should ultimately help save lives.

“This is system developed for police officers, by police officers,” said NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly. “They worked with the developers at Microsoft in countless hours of focus groups. And the result of this joint effort is a tool that meets the needs of the department, one that will help protect New Yorkers, and keep us safe from crime and terrorism for years to come.”

Kelly called the cutting-edge technology a great accomplishment for New York City, and potentially for police departments and other government agencies across the U.S.

Ret. Lt. Gen. Mike McDuffie, Microsoft vice president American sales, also was on hand for Wednesday’s announcement. Microsoft is “deeply committed to taking this initiative to another level,” McDuffie said. The company is “all in,” he said.

New York City will take in 30 percent of revenue generated by the Domain Awareness System, which Microsoft will market to law enforcement agencies across the nation and around the world. Bloomberg said as a result the city thinks it will recoup its investment in the system and may even make some money off of it.

In a prepared statement, the Mayor’s Office gave examples of scenarios where the new system will help the NYPD prevent or solve crimes:

  • “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.”

Matt Williams Contributing Writer

Matt Williams was previously the news editor of, and is now a contributor to Government Technology and Public CIO magazines. He also previously served as the managing editor of TechWire, a sister publication to Government Technology.2

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