NYPD officer (shutterstock.com)

NYPD ditches Windows phones

The New York City Police Department plans to replace its 36,000 Microsoft Windows-based phones with Apple iPhones.

In October 2014, the NYPD announced a Mobility Initiative to provide police officers with mobile devices, including tablet computers and handheld phones. The phones were equipped with custom apps, including the Domain Awareness System developed by NYPD and Microsoft. It aggregates and analyzes public safety data -- including video from thousands of surveillance cameras -- in real time to give investigators a comprehensive view of potential threats and criminal activity.

The devices were also intended to give officers mobile access to the majority of NYPD databases so they could conduct record checks, receive information pertaining to 911 emergency calls and access the NYPD's Enterprise Case Management System, allowing them to review and update case information from the field.

When Microsoft said it would no longer support the Windows 8.1 operating system after July 11, the department had to decide whether to keep using discontinued phones that couldn't get security updates, buy new handsets to run Windows 10 Mobile and upgrade the custom apps, or move to a new mobile operating system.

Windows phones have never gained much traction. Even when the NYPD initiative was announced, they made up only 3.4 percent of the U.S. market, according to a June 2014 ComScore report.

The NYPD had selected the Windows phones because, at the time, "neither iOS nor Android phones allowed us to cost-effectively utilize prior investment in custom Windows applications," wrote Jessica Tisch, NYPD’s deputy commissioner for IT, in the NYPDnews blog. She also touted their effectiveness in helping police officers fight crime and enhance public safety.

A year ago, the department "learned that improvements in Apple controls would allow NYPD to responsibly and cost-effectively move our mobility initiative to the Apple platform," Tisch said. "We began plans to make the transition, which will take effect this fall."

The New York Post, which broke the story, laid the blame for the choice of the short-lived Windows phones squarely at Tisch's feet. The article states that "law enforcement sources blamed the boondoggle" on her, "with one saying, 'She drove the whole process.'" Another source was quoted as saying, “Nobody purchases 36,000 phones based on the judgment of one person.”

The NYPD has not yet announced which iPhone model it will use.

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA and MA from West Chester University and did Ph.D. work in English at the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at [email protected] or @sjaymiller.


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