Microsoft, NYPD Partner to Build Counterterrorism System

 
 
By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2012-08-09 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Microsoft announced that its partnership with the New York Police Department (NYPD) has resulted in a real-time crime fighting and counterterrorism system known as the Domain Awareness System.

Microsoft is €œall in€ with crime prevention and counterterrorism as part of a new partnership between the software giant and the New York Police Department (NYPD) aimed at keeping the Big Apple safe with an innovative new system based on Microsoft technology.

At an Aug. 8 press conference at the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative headquarters, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced a partnership with Microsoft designed to bring the latest crime prevention and counterterrorism technology capabilities to worldwide law enforcement, public safety and intelligence agencies, among others.

The NYPD teamed with Microsoft to develop the Domain Awareness System (DAS), a sophisticated law enforcement technology solution that aggregates and analyzes public safety data in real time, providing NYPD investigators and analysts with a comprehensive view of potential threats and criminal activity.

€œI want everyone to be assured that Microsoft is deeply committed to taking this initiative to another level and, as we say in our company, we€™re €˜all in,€™€ said Mike McDuffie, Microsoft€™s vice president of Americas Services, who represented Microsoft at the event.

Commissioner Kelly said a major factor the NYPD is excited about is the usefulness of DAS, in that it €œis a system created by police officers for police officers.€

€œThe system was created as a result of police officers, detectives and software developers working side by side,€ Bloomberg said. €œMicrosoft provided the technical and engineering muscle, but NYPD personnel were the architects of this system.€

Microsoft handled the coding and system architecture, and the NYPD set out the system requirements, which were developed through an exhaustive series of focus groups in which members of the NYPD thought critically and creatively about how they perform their jobs and how technology could facilitate and streamline efficient operations of the department€™s mission.

The NYPD and Microsoft jointly developed the DAS by bringing together Microsoft€™s technical expertise and technologies with the day-to-day experience and knowledge of NYPD officers. The result is a solution that is uniquely tailored to meet the specific needs of its users. As part of the agreement, the NYPD will receive 30 percent of revenue from the sales of the DAS system to other customers worldwide, Bloomberg said.

€œWithout the expertise and leadership of those protecting this city, you can€™t bring the technology to bear,€ McDuffie said. €œIt€™s a privilege to be trusted by this great institution in bringing our technologies in and, most importantly, to take this unique capability to other law enforcement agencies and justice and public safety institutions, not only in the U.S, but to our allies.€ McDuffie retired as a lieutenant general in the U.S. Army after spending 31 years in the military.

The DAS system processes real-time data to prevent crime and terrorist activity. For example, analysts are notified of suspicious packages and vehicles, and NYPD personnel can actively search for suspects using advanced technologies such as smart cameras and license plate readers.

€œPart of the reason we have been able to continue driving down crime to record lows while devoting considerable resources to counterterrorism is our heavy investment in technology and our willingness to develop new, cutting-edge solutions to keep New Yorkers safe,€ Bloomberg said in a statement. €œThis 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. It will help the NYPD do more to prevent crimes from occurring and help them respond to crimes even more effectively. And because the NYPD built the system in partnership with Microsoft, the sale of the product will generate revenue for the city that will fund more new crime-prevention and counterterrorism programs.€

€œThe system€™s development is a testament to the talent and experience of our officers,€ Kelly said. €œAnd this agreement with Microsoft will allow the NYPD to continue to fund innovative counterterrorism and crime prevention programs.€

DAS combines NYPD operational knowledge with Microsoft technology expertise, and Microsoft is now bringing the solution to market in an effort to extend these capabilities to other jurisdictions. Public safety organizations interested in deploying DAS will go through a process of customization based on unique organizational and regional requirements.

€œMicrosoft is honored to partner with the NYPD to provide these important public safety capabilities to other jurisdictions,€ said Kathleen Hogan, corporate vice president of Microsoft Services, in a statement. €œThe NYPD is a respected leader and is continually innovating to help ensure the safety of New York€™s citizens. It is a privilege to support its work with our technology and professional services.€

€œBy providing real-time analytics and improved situational awareness for the men and women on the front lines of counterterrorism and crime prevention, this new system can help further enhance public safety outcomes for New Yorkers,€ said Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications Commissioner Rahul Merchant, in a statement. €œAnd by using the New York City Wireless Network -- our high-speed, mission-critical wireless broadband infrastructure -- to support the Domain Awareness System, we€™re leveraging an existing, innovative technology solution to provide ever more capabilities to police officers in the field.€

Essentially, the Domain Awareness System is a counterterrorism and policing tool for retrieving and displaying information from cameras, license plate readers, environmental sensors and law enforcement databases. Using an intelligent and intuitive graphical interface, it provides real-time alerts and the means to quickly call up relevant information to guide and inform police action. Its mapping features, which are tied to rich data sources, support investigations, crime analysis and effective management of police resources. The system is an innovative tool that has the potential to revolutionize law enforcement, intelligence and public safety operations, Commissioner Kelly said, who noted that when he came back to work at the NYPD, the department was €œa big user of white-out and carbon paper.€

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.

€œThe system allows us to connect the dots by instantly tapping into the details of crime records, 911 calls, license plate readers, video tape footage and more,€ Kelly said.

Meanwhile, Jessica Tisch, director of policy and planning for the NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau, gave a demonstration of the DAS system, calling it €œa remarkable step forward, leveraging the power of technology to support law enforcement and public safety operations.€

New York City has approximately 3,000 closed-circuit TV cameras connected to the Domain Awareness System. The majority of these cameras are in Lower Manhattan €“ south of Canal Street, from river to river €“ and in Midtown Manhattan €“ between 30th street and 60th street, from river to river, Bloomberg said. NYPD has begun to expand camera coverage to the boroughs outside of Manhattan.

 


 
 
 
 
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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