New York Police Department Beta-Tests Google Glass

The NYPD likely acquired the glasses through the Google Glass Explorer program but is not working directly with Google.

NYPD google glass

“The New York City Police Department’s massive and controversial intelligence and analytics unit is evaluating whether Google Glass is a decent fit for investigating terrorists and helping cops lock up bad guys,” reported VentureBeat yesterday.

A ranking New York City law enforcement official told VentureBeat, “We signed up, got a few pairs of the Google glasses, and we’re trying them out, seeing if they have any value in investigations, mostly for patrol purposes.”

The chief information officer of the San Francisco police department, Susan Merritt, added that her department has yet to test the wearable Google computers, but the applications for law enforcement are potentially huge.

According to the VentureBeat report, not everyone in the law enforcement and the intelligence community is convinced Google Glass is applicable to spying and investigations. According to VentureBeat:

Even without facial recognition, Google Glass could help match suspects’ names and faces to information contained in various databases that police and federal law enforcement agencies use, such as those from the National Crime Information Center. That would give investigators a handy way to see a suspect’s rap sheet while interviewing them, for instance.

VentureBeat said the technology could also help “eliminate the time-consuming, hand-written or typed reports that are the bane of cops the world over by enabling video recording and dictation for digital reports,” but that the glasses “could run afoul of civil liberty groups who say Google Glass and their wireless software programs could encroach on the rights of innocent citizens, especially in a city like San Francisco.”

The news that the country’s largest police department is eagerly beta-testing Google’s products comes at a sensitive time for the company, given its entanglement in various intelligence-gathering efforts from spy agencies in the U.S. and abroad. Not that Google is happy about that: Google chairman Eric Schmidt blew a gasket when it was revealed that the NSA was routinely hacking into the company’s servers to spy on customers, as outlined in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

A spokesman for Google told VentureBeat that the company was not working with law enforcement agencies on the project and that the NYPD likely acquired the glasses through the Google Glass Explorer program. Apparently, anyone can sign up to become a Glass Explorer.

Click here for the the full report from VentureBeat.

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