Windows Phones bolster NYPD's crime-fighting chops

lumia 830
Credit: Martyn Williams

The New York Police Department has finally entered the 21st century, and they have done it with...Windows Phones?

That's right. The largest municipal police force in the United States has issued a smartphone to each of New York's finest, who have incorporated the devices into their daily policing duties. But why Windows Phones? And what benefits have they brought the department?

In IT Blogwatch, we call 911.

What exactly is the deal? Matt Weinberger has the details:

In 2014, the New York Police Department announced an initiative to give...its 36,000 officers a Windows Phone, as part of an effort to modernize the force.
That deployment is complete as of this week: All 36,000 NYPD officers are now rocking a Lumia 830...or a Lumia 640 XL...running the Windows Phone 8.1 operating system.

But why Windows Phones? Horia Ungureanu gives us the background:

The police force['s]...use of...smartphones...[is] helping them to solve crimes faster. One internal statistic shows that the response time accelerated by 12 percent after the handset handout.
Choosing Microsoft's ecosystem was far from a random act...The department underlines that Windows Mobile overpasses Android or iOS because of its security and user friendliness.

Faster response times is good. In what other ways have the phones been useful? Alfred Ng is in the know:

Just as the advent of smarter phones brought improvements to regular folks' daily lives, these handsets have...made it easier for the city's finest to fight crime. Officers are able to respond to 911 calls faster, solve crimes more efficiently and create stronger ties to their community.
The phone's most basic function -- calling -- is what has helped community relations the most...Before the phones were issued, officers didn't have a work email or phone number they could give out to people who needed their help in follow-up incidents.

Besides calling, how is the NYPD using the phones? Turns out, they have a number of dedicated apps to use. Jane Danes tells us about a couple:

One of those apps is 911. It allows the officers to get 911 calls directly, rather than receiving the reports from their dispatchers...Apart from 911, Microsoft also developed Search app for officers. It...allows NYPD officers to browse names, license plates and other details stored in the police database. You can call it as NYPD’s Google.
Another useful the crime information center. It’s a bulletin board with missing persons and safety alerts. During a burglary...suspects were caught after a precinct commander used the app to tell all officers within the area to look for a white van.

And those are just a few of the apps being used. So, overall, this seems like a good thing for NYPD and Microsoft. Are there any downsides? And are there any plans to upgrade to a more recent OS? Williams Pelegrin fills us in:

The switch has introduced some headaches...such as damaged and lost devices. Furthermore, some officers...worried about being tracked through their phones.
Even so, every NYPD officer is now equipped with a Windows Phone...with the force looking to upgrade to a Windows 10 2017’s summer months. Whatever phone it opts for, the NYPD wants officers to be able to tap into New York City’s security cameras and to have two-way digital dispatches with other officers.
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