The New York Police Department is embracing online surveillance in a wide-eyed way.
Representatives from Microsoft and the NYPD announced the launch of their new Domain Awareness System (DAS) at a Lower Manhattan press conference Wednesday. Using DAS, police are able to monitor thousands of CCTV cameras around the five boroughs, scan license plates, find out the kind of radiation cars are emanating, and extrapolate info on criminal and terrorism suspects from dozens of criminal databases … all in near-real time.
New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly first announced that Microsoft had the NYPD’s Domain Awareness System under development at the Aspen Security Forum in July. Microsoft has quietly become one of the world’s largest providers of integrated intelligence solutions for police departments and security agencies. Although DAS is officially being touted as an anti-terrorism solution, it will also give the NYPD access to technologies that-depending on the individual’s perspectives-veer on science fiction or Big Brother to combat street crime.
The City of New York and Microsoft will be licensing DAS out to other cities; according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York City’s government will take a 30% cut of any profits. “Citizens do not like higher taxes, so we [find other revenue outlets,” said Bloomberg. Bloomberg continued that “I hope Microsoft sells a lot of copies of this system, because 30% of the profits will go to us.” fastcompany.com
Imagine a 911 caller alerts police to a suspicious vehicle: The Domain Awareness System could then automatically track that vehicle with the city’s network of cameras and smart license plate readers as well as figure out where the vehicle’s been in the past and possibly determine information about the driver, all while feeding that information to police.
The DAS can also figure out who left behind a suspicious package, map historical criminal activity and identify the source of radiation in the event of a possible attack.
“This new system capitalizes on new powerful policing software that allows police officers and other personnel to more quickly access relevant information gathered from existing cameras, 911 calls, previous crime reports and other existing tools and technology,” said Mayor Bloomberg of the system. “It will help the NYPD do more to prevent crimes from occurring and help them respond to crimes even more effectively.”
New York City touted the DAS as a counterterrorism measure in a press release. However, data collected by the system can be used “for a legitimate law enforcement or public safety purpose,” per the city’s guidelines.
Additionally, monitoring of the city’s streets will occur 24 hours a day in some parts of lower Manhattan, video will be held for 30 days unless archived and license plate information will be saved for five years. Combined, these factors may cause the system to become the target of severe blowback from privacy groups. mashable.com
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