NYPD’s List of Surveillance Technology Devices And How They Work

The New York City Police Department is not only featured doling great things in movies, but the department also puts in the work to curb crime rates in the city. In this digital age, the department has gained access to so many new toys to make their work easier. Although there are controversies that some of the surveillance devices are infringing on the privacy of the citizens, there is no doubt that the devices have helped make the streets safer.

To curb crime rates in New York, the devices either help police identify criminals fast, detect guns and arms in public places and cars, analyze surveillance footage and do much more for a safer New York. Below are the systems:

Facial Recognition

Facial recognition is used to identify individuals from their photos. Usually, the system uses different systems to pin the identity of a person from photos, videos, and real-time surveillance. Identifying these are easy to learn the individuals is left to the Facial Identification Section within NYPD. When running facial recognition, FIS runs photos against arrest photos, juvenile arrests, photos connected to pistol permits, and many more photos from different sources.

Usually, the system will show about 200 potential matches and it is the job of the FIS to find the exact match. In case the footage is blurry, the NYPD can use photo editing tools to make the photos clear.

Video Analytics

The video analytics systems can isolate people and objects within surveillance camera footage. These systems make use of complex algorithms to identify particular clothing or luggage. Some of the systems can find people of certain hair color, facial hair, or a specific skin tone.

Social Media Monitoring

Information on social media is available to the general public. When doing investigations, NYPD might monitor or track the online activities of a person, a group, or an affiliation.

Sometimes, the police might use an informant to get details from protected social media accounts or use a proxy account to troll someone on social media. Better yet, they can use software that monitors individuals, groups, or affiliations on social media. In case these methods do not work, the police will obtain a warrant or use other legal means to get information directly from the social media platform.

Criminal Group Database

Also called a Gang Database, a Criminal Group Database is a list of all individuals that the police have confirmed or suspects are gang members. To appear in the database, individuals have to be affiliated with known gang members or bear marks and tattoos associated with gang members.

In some cases, some people appear in the database for activities far from gang affiliations such as frequenting an area where gangs are known to hang out.

Predictive Policing

The NYPD offices have been upgraded with all these new technologies. The upgrades were also carried out with advanced tools and equipment with separate grinding wheels and other advanced features.

One of the major technological tools is the predictive policing algorithm that analyzes data sets to give a near-perfect prediction of where the next crime is likely to occur. With these predictions, the NYPD can deploy police units effectively. Besides the place-based algorithm, predictive policing involves analyzing a set of data to predict an individual who is likely to commit a crime.

Cell Site Simulators

Also called Stingrays or IMSI Catchers, these are devices that alter the operations of phones within a given radius so they connect to the device rather than the cell tower. This way, the device can tell the exact location of a phone.

Stingrays are important in pinpointing the exact location of a suspect’s phone. Besides pinpointing the location, these devices can log unique identifying numbers of all mobile devices in a given area. Although the NYPD does not use this feature, the cell-site simulators can intercept communications received or sent from a phone. 

Automated License Plate Readers, ALPRs

These are simple devices like cameras that are fixed on police cars or on poles to capture all the license plates of cars that pass around the area. The device can also run license plates against a list of other plates to check alerts for stolen cars or cars involved in a crime.

The devices can also capture photographs of cars, drivers, and passengers. The information is then sent to a database where it is analyzed.


Drones are now used in so many industries. These are remotely operated aircraft that are fitted with cameras, sensors, and other devices. They can, for instance, be used for facial recognition or can come with GPS trackers or Stingray devices.

Gunshot Detection System

ShotSpotter, as the system is commonly known, uses sensors to collect sounds of gunshots. It is best to use an angle grinder before installing this (www.bestcabinettablesaw.com/angle-grinders-reviews/) for it to be more accurate. When a sound is recorded, it is sent to the vendor employees who verify whether the sound is really a gunshot. If the audio snippet is verified and it is a gun shooting, the vendor employee will send the information to the police department.

Body Camera

The NYPD has used body cameras for a long time. These cameras are attached to the uniform of the officer to record their interactions with people. These clips can be used in the future in courts. These body cams are great for police accountability but they are also great in gathering evidence.

Conclusion There are so many other technologies, some that the department has not revealed. All help reduce crime. Some have been stopped on privacy concerns and others are still functional.