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Aggressive automation stance in NY pays off for vendors

Aggressive automation stance in NY pays off for vendors

New York City’s mayor has a message for companies selling technology that might help crime rates to continue to fall: Welcome.

Anyone opposing biometric surveillance, four-legged drones and vehicle tagging are not being asked to leave by Mayor Eric Adams, but they will not find an ally in City Hall.

Adams this week set that tone that likely means hurdles to municipal use of facial recognition are being lowered, if not removed.

“If it wasn’t for our camera system that you see throughout the city, we would not have made the apprehensions on some of the most dangerous people in this city and state,” he said. AI is “allowing us to go even further.”

During a press conference hosted by Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell during which reporters met a couple dog-shaped, remotely controlled devices and a tagging mechanism designed to attach a GPS tag to suspects’ cars for less-dramatic chases.

Descriptions of the dog-like systems displayed at the press conference swung from drone-like to autonomous.

Sewell compared the Hyundai/Boston Dynamics Digidog and egg-shaped Knightscope K5 ASR machines – neither of which will initially perform facial recognition tasks — to past innovations like horseback patrols and fingerprint biometrics. Adams compared them to 911 emergency services.

The mayor, who habitually identifies himself as a technology geek, implied that his predecessor put the city’s safety at risk after “a few loud people” in 2021 complained about a pilot using some of the machines.

(More than a few people have complained, and opposition goes back at least five years. Fortunately for city leaders, the systems have their proponents among the citizenry.)

“That is not how I operate,” Adams said, leaving the impression that he will shovel mechanical watchdogs onto city streets if they prevent or solve crime.

Two new Digidog units will be bought, said Jeffrey Maddrey, the city’s chief of police, for a reported $750,000.

“This is the beginning of a series of roll outs,” according to Adams.

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