New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has unveiled a new crime-fighting system developed with Microsoft – and revealed that the city will take a cut of the profits if it is sold to other administrations.
The innovation, which bears a passing resemblance to the futuristic hologram data screens used by Tom Cruise in the science fiction film Minority Report, will allow police to quickly collate and visualise vast amounts of data from cameras, licence plate readers, 911 calls, police databases and other sources.
It will then display the information in real time, both visually and chronologically, allowing investigators to centralise information about crimes as they happen or are reported. "It is a one-stop shop for law enforcement," Bloomberg said at a City Hall press conference unveiling the new technology.
But, though it has many screens, maps, and flashing visuals that make it look like science fiction, the new technology has a distinctly un-Hollywood name: the Domain Awareness System. Developed by Microsoft engineers working with New York police officers, DAS will allow a host of activities to be carried out, such as spotting a suspicious vehicle and being able to track its recent movements or use cameras to track back and see who left a suspicious package.
It features live video feeds, huge databases of recent crime patterns and can take input direct from the field in real time via things like 911 calls or police radios. "All the information is presented visually and geographically and in chronological context," said police commissioner Ray Kelly.
If other cities purchase this system, Microsoft will share 30% of the profit with NYC.
Given how shoddy Microsoft products generally are, I doubt this thing will work as Bloomberg and Microsoft are advertising it, so we'll just have to see if any other municipality signs on to it.
Even so, I am a little disturbed that Microsoft and the NYPD are partnering on a crime tracking system.
Maybe the Gates Foundation can add a test score/teacher evaluation and really bring the school-to-prison complex together into one huge database?
Oops - maybe I shouldn't give Uncle Bill any ideas - he's been known to steal them before and make them into a core component of his Microsoft business model.
Although as I noted above, if this thing is as bad as Microsoft ME, Vista, Zune or Windows 8, I suspect it will spend more time freezing up and causing frustration than actually helping police track "criminals."