Microsoft and NYPD unveil new centralized surveillance system

New York City and Microsoft have joined forces and developed a new computer system that aggregates and analyzes the information gathered through a number of public safety data streams in real time in order to combat crime and other threats in the city.

According to Jaikumar Vijayan, this Domain Awareness System (DAS) gathers information from surveillance cameras, radiation detectors, 911 calls, license plate readers, crime reports, and a number of public safety databases, and all this information is made available to the city’s law enforcement officials so that they might react more swiftly and effectively.

The system also issues alerts on potential security threats, and its operators – located in the command center – are trained to quickly analyze all the information that can be useful for gauging the danger.

Law enforcement personnel will be able to analyze and refine the leads given by the system and its operators, and consequently identify patterns and make decisions about the deployment of additional units in specific situations.

DAS currently collects information from some 3,000 CCTV cameras located in lower and midtown Manhattan, as well a those on the bridges and tunnels connecting it to the rest of the city. Cameras, license plate readers and radiation detectors located in the rest of the city’s boroughs will eventually also be connected to the system.

Recordings from the cameras will be kept for 30 days, then mostly deleted. If some of them can be of some specific use later, they will be retained, but it is unknown for how long.

Microsoft is set to offer the technology to police departments around the world and, given that the system was developed with the help of New York City, will be sharing 30 percent of the sales’ revenues with it.

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