The New York Police Department (NYPD) began outfitting its officers with Android smartphones as part of a new pilot aimed at improving policing and public safety. According to the New York Times, the department has already distributed over 400 smartphones to its officers since last summer, providing them with more detailed access to police data while on the move.

The Android smartphones are unable to make or receive calls, but data connections can assist an officer in looking up suspects' criminal history, verifying identities using police photographs, and accessing vehicle registrations. The smartphone app offers a comprehensive range of information in one place, differing from the computers installed in 2,500 patrol cars, which are often slow and require officers to log into a number of different databases to retrieve information.

The app is quicker and more comprehensive than in-car computers

Forces across the US are looking to mobile apps to help them fight crime. Last year, the San Francisco Police Department began trialing a new mobile app that would allow officers to dictate their reports by voice and pull up information on vehicles by snapping a photo of its license plate. The idea is that by arming officers with near real-time data, officers will able to verify claims and identify people on the spot, understanding the gravity of the situation they might be faced with.