When you hear the term Android the first thing that pops in your mind is smartphones. The operating system is quite popular these days that we immediately connect it with communications or entertainment. The New York Police Department has another use for Android and that is in fighting crime.
A pilot program that was slowly rolled out last summer has several NYPD officers equipped with Android powered smartphones. As of this date 400 smartphones are in the hands of officers that let them easily gather information from criminal records to open warrants.
The smartphones distributed aren’t like the regular models being sold in stores. They are not able to receive or send any calls or text message. What they do however is access data and this is the important part. This makes it easier for policemen on foot patrol to access important data such as whether a person has an outstanding warrant or not. It even makes it easier for policemen inside their cars to access data compared to the in-car computer system. According to several officers who are part of the program accessing data on the Android devices is much quicker compared to their in-car computers that usually suffer from spotty connection issues.
Aside from providing information, the Android devices make it more effective in relaying the information back to the officer. An example provided is that previously a policeman who stops an individual for a violation would have to radio in for information regarding the records of that individual. With the device in the officer’s possession this step can be skipped since the information can easily be looked up.
According to Tom Donaldson, NYPD officer, “Our dispatcher will tell us if they have a warrant or not but it’s a simple yes or no answer. I don’t know if the guy is wanted for murder or for not paying a parking summons. We rarely know. Now we know.”
While this certainly is a huge leap forward for the NYPD some people are concerned on what will happen if these smartphones gets lost or stolen.