The New York City Police Department and Microsoft Corp. unveiled a new tracking tool designed by both agencies on Wednesday that will provide investigators with real-time crime alerts.
The Domain Awareness System pools and then quickly analyzes information from a variety of information sources critical to crime solving, including security cameras, arrest records, license plate readers, sensors, radiation detectors and 911 calls.
"Microsoft provided the technical and engineering muscle, but NYPD personnel were the architects of this new system," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a news conference announcing the new tool.
The new system, which will cost an estimated $30 to $40 million, will be able to map suspects' movements and provide NYPD investigators and analysts with real-time crime alerts in one centralized location.
The tool doesn't add any new surveillance technology. Instead, it combines existing technology in a new way. For example, a 911 report of a suspicious package could quickly trigger a review of a nearby security camera.
There are an estimated 3,000 closed-circuit television cameras connected to the Domain Awareness System, most of which are located in lower and midtown Manhattan, along with 2,600 radiation detectors carried by officers deployed at bridges, tunnels and streets, Bloomberg said.
If the system is successful, Microsoft and NYPD plan to market DAS to other cities, with New York City receiving 30 percent of any revenue.
"The system allows us to connect the dots by instantly tapping into the details of crime records, 911 calls, license plate readers, videotape footage and more," NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said at the news conference, which was held inside the department's Lower Manhattan Security Initiative headquarters.
Christopher Dunn, associate legal director at the New York Civil Liberties Union, expressed concern that such a new system has the potential for abuse and, therefore, should have strict privacy protections and independent oversight.
"We fully support the police using technology to combat crime and terrorism, but law-abiding New Yorkers should not end up in a police database every time they walk their dog, go to the doctor or drive around Manhattan," said Dunn.
Bloomberg said the city conducts surveillance within legal guidelines and pointed out that buildings have long used security cameras and cellphone companies track users' movements.
"That's just something you're going to have to learn to deal with," the mayor said.
Would you like to see the introduction of new surveillance systems in Forest Hills? Or does the neighborhood need them? Let us know what you think in the comments.