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Microsoft and NYPD show off crime prevention and monitoring system

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The NYPD and Microsoft have partnered to make the Domain Awareness System, which is being used to access, analyze, and use all of the data that's constantly collected throughout the city.


Microsoft and the New York City Police Department have unveiled what they're calling the "Domain Awareness System" — software that pulls together and analyzes all of the data that is constantly collected to fight crime and terrorism. It makes all 911 calls, license plate scanners, CCTV feeds, radiation detectors, and historical crime patterns available for the department to view and get alerted to new threats as they happen in real time. The information is presented geographically, of course, and it's not just going to be used to view crime in process: it'll be used to investigators to find suspects and get leads. All of the information will also be collated to identify patterns to see where and how crime happens.

The mayor said during a news conference today that the system was jointly developed by both Microsoft and the NYPD. He called the police department the "architects" of the software, and that it designed to software to work for its needs, while Microsoft provided the engineering and development backbone. Of course, other cities have similar needs, and Microsoft plans to sell the software. New York City will get 30 percent of all proceeds from those sales.

In a demonstration, the dashboard — a huge wall of screens — was used to view a 911 call about a mysterious package. The transcription of the call was available right in the software alongside a map of where the package was. It also provided contextual information about the area — which precinct was it in, who was handling the case, and relevant historical data. It also provided instant access to the 3,000 cameras throughout the city to view crowd conditions. Additionally, the system can provide all hits throughout the database on license plates and track cars through the city. Investigators can also view radioactive alerts from the city's monitors from the central monitoring station, and see information about the substance that was picked up — like half-lives, side effects, and more.

IBM partnered with the NYPD back in 2006 to modernize its data collection and monitoring, but the new Domain Awareness System seems to be a thoroughly revamped system. It's not clear if officers will need to be at the NYPD's central monitoring station to access the system or if they'll be able to do so from their computers, but, either way, it's certainly one step closer to the mythical PreCrime from Minority Report.