NYC to equip police with mobile devices, custom apps

Posted by Justin Hesser on October 24, 2014

The New York County District Attorney's office has announced that New York Police Department officers and vehicles will begin to receive high-tech devices as part of the NYPD Mobility Initiative. Each of the approximately 35,000 officers in the nation's largest police force will receive a smartphone, and 6,000 rugged tablets, designed to sustain tough field conditions, will be installed in police vehicles. The $160 million investment will be covered entirely by a financial settlement from French bank BNP Paribas.

The devices will be loaded with several apps to make the officers' jobs easier, including a mobile version of the Domain Awareness System, a surveillance platform that was first instituted by the NYPD, which will soon begin licensing it to other law enforcement forces. Officers will be able to access 911 data such as location and even notes from the call-taker, and future planned functionality includes fingerprint scanning and GPS.

Besides modernizing the police force, some observers believe the high-tech solutions could also increase accountability and help prevent abuses. To that end, both Los Angeles and New York City have recently begun equipping officers with personal cameras.

Six thousand NYPD vehicles will be equipped with rugged tablets.

"We must have 21st-century tools to deal with 21st-century threats, and this infusion of new resources will arm our officers with the technology and information they need to fight crime and protect the city against terrorism more efficiently and more effectively," said mayor Bill de Blasio at a press conference.

The modernization of law enforcement also opens up new possibilities for software developing companies. Police departments can't afford to lag behind in technology, and they could benefit greatly from the use of apps designed specifically for their purposes.