New York City cops are going mobile: Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Friday that the NYPD is planning to outfit every officer — all 35,000 of them — with a mobile “handheld device,” or what most of us would refer to as a smartphone. The $160 million technology program, dubbed NYPD Mobility Initiative, will also install 6000 ruggedized tablets into police cars.
The touchscreen devices issued to cops will be connected to a cellular network, which will give officers in the field “expanded search capabilities,” which simply means they can more easily search NYPD databases on the go. Another big function of the new NYPD smartphones will be that they’ll get real-time 911 data, including notes, which is the kind of contextual information that could be extremely useful.
One line from the press release indicates the NYPD is planning to use the fingerprint scanners increasingly installed on mobile devices in an unexpected fashion: “It is expected that further functionality will be added to the mobile platform next year, including the integration of fingerprint scanning to support in-field identity checks.”
What specific devices is the NYPD planning to deploy? It looks like the tablets they’re planning to deploy are Panasonic Toughbooks running Windows, or at least that’s what de Blasio was holding up at the press conference.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) October 23, 2014
At the press conference, the NYPD laid out a variety of mobile devices on a table as if they were confiscated drugs from a bust, revealing multiple Windows devices, including at least one Lumia phone.
Although Windows Phone currently doesn’t have any devices on the market with a fingerprint scanner, code has been discovered which indicates that the platform will likely gain the feature soon, which lines up with the NYPD statement that fingerprint checks will be added “next year.”
While it appears that NYPD’s mobility efforts heavily involve both Windows and Windows Phone, if the devices given to officers exclusively run Windows, that marks a distinct change from last year. A piece in the New York Times showed that an early pilot giving smartphones to officers used Android smartphones — unable to make calls — with service provided by AT&T. According to the story, those phones ran a special NYPD app which could search for a person based on name, or run a search based on the officer’s current location.
When reached for comment, an NYPD spokesperson declined to elaborate.