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By GCN Staff

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New York City police outside a building

What good's an Android that can't make calls? For NYPD, plenty.

New York City police are piloting a somewhat novel use of Android smart phones, using them on the beat the same way they would use the laptop PCs in their cruisers.

NYPD has distributed about 400 Androids to officers as part of a program that started in 2012, the New York Times reports. Police with phones is nothing new, of course, but these phones can’t make or receive calls. Instead, they’re used to access databases of information on everything from criminal records, existing warrants, registered gun owners and motor vehicle records.

The Times, for example, went to a 14-story apartment building in a housing project with officers who were able to call up thousands of records related to residents in the building. Police told the Times that the Android apps gives them more complete information, and does it more quickly, than they get from radioing to a dispatcher, or even from the laptops in patrol cars, which can have spotty Internet connections.

New York is among the cities testing a variety of innovative technologies to help lower crimes rate. NYPD has developed what it calls the Dashboard, which pulls in data and imagery from about 3,000 surveillance cameras and other sensors, and combines them with data on 911 calls, arrests and other records to give police a clear operational picture. In early 2012, the city also was testing a long-range scanner technology that could “frisk” people on the street for concealed weapons.

On other fronts, police in the Bay Area around San Francisco have been testing phones that actually make calls, but with a software system that gives military-grade security to their communications. And during last year’s Republican National Convention, police in Tampa and St. Petersburg, Fla., tested a first-of-its-kind LTE cellular network dedicated to law enforcement as part of security operations.

Posted by Kevin McCaney on Apr 15, 2013 at 9:39 AM


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