New York City's police department is partnering with Microsoft to develop what's being called the Domain Awareness System (DAS), a law enforcement tool with the goal of not only preventing crime by monitoring public safety data streams, but to also help respond to and follow up on crimes quickly and more efficiently.
Most people realize in a post-9/11 world there are far more policing and counterterrorism efforts in place whether we're aware of them or not. New York City certainly has been leading the charge. The DAS was the result of Microsoft and NYPD officers together assessing how existing technology is used, and how it could be made better. The system pulls together and analyzes public safety data in real time, and is able to communicate possible threats to NYPD investigators and analysts.
These sources include a whopping 3,000 CCTV police cameras, license plate readers, environmental sensors, police databases (personal criminal histories and data on geographical and chronological crime patterns), real-time city mapping and more. Having these systems talk to each other and collectively analyze situations was an obvious next step.
The other interesting aspect of this announcement is the joint revenue share between the two parties. The City of New York and Microsoft both believe the highly intuitive and responsive policing and counterterrorism tool will be in demand by other governments and agencies, and that those bodies will be willing to pay for the Domain Awareness System. Should this occur, the City of New York will receive 30% of the revenue, and will use it to fund further public safety and counterterrorism measures.
With this announcement, it looks like the future of policing is here and it's for sale. Some will view this highly technical observation system as the first steps towards Skynet; others will view it as a way to feel secure that an unattended briefcase won't go unnoticed for long. Whether New Yorkers love it or hate it, it's clear all eyes are on them.
How would you feel about programs like this in your city or town? If it made you appreciably safer, would you welcome the heightened surveillance?