Standing before a 30-foot-long wall of video monitors that looked liked the set of a Hollywood TV show, New York City officials unveiled their latest tool to combat crime and terrorism.
"We are not your mom and pop's police department anymore," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said describing the Domain Awareness System for reporters. "We are leading the pack."
The system allows New York City police to monitor thousands of surveillance cameras across the city and, in real time, collect and analyze information from relevant databases.
"The system allow us to connect the dots by instantly tapping into details of crime records, 911 calls, license plate readers and more," NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
Although the Domain Awareness System was introduced to the media on Wednesday, it has been in use the last six months.
In one instance, authorities used it to follow up a 911 call regarding a suspicious package.
The NYPD Director of Policy and Planning for the Counter Terrorism Bureau Jessica Tisch demonstrated the system and showed how, "with the click of one button, I can call up all cameras within 500 feet" of the incident.
The system can be used to review footage recorded earlier to learn more about who left the package on the street. Authorities say all camera feeds are saved for 30 days before they are erased.
Not everyone thinks the system developed jointly by software giant Microsoft and the NYPD is such a good idea, however. Privacy advocates worry that it can easily be abused.
"Even if you think it is a perfectly legitimate law enforcement system, there is no oversight whatsoever, the only people who have control over this are people inside the police department," associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union Chris Dunn said.
Despite privacy concerns, plans are in the works for Microsoft to sell the system to other US cities and allies. New York City will receive 30 percent of all revenue because the system was developed the the help of the NYPD.