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Outsmarting the bad guys with smart technologies

That the biggest police department in the U.S. is testing Google Glass as a potential law enforcement tool attracted a lot of attention after VentureBeat put out the story last week. A few days later the New York Police Department confirmed it is looking at the experimental technology to see if it might be useful for their investigative efforts.

Google Glass is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display that you wear like a pair of glasses. Information is fed to the user's line of sight and the user can speak commands to it. A simple scenario for how it might be used is a patrolman stops someone for suspicious activity and pulls up a rap sheet on the spot, without having to radio in or look something up on a more conventional laptop or tablet.

"As part of an ongoing interest in the advancements in the field of technology, the NYPD regularly conducts reviews of various equipment, devices, programs and other consumer products for their potential application or utility in the area of policing," Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis said in a statement.

It wouldn't be the first time NYPD has tested new technology platforms, VentureBeat notes, pointing to its collaboration with Council Partner Microsoft a couple of years ago to build the Domain Awareness System – a high-tech counter-terrorism tool.

It also wouldn't be the first public safety department to show interest in Google Glass. CNN tells of a tech-savvy North Carolina firefighter who came up with a Google Glass app that shows the location and type of incident crews are responding to. And he's got a list of additional capabilities he'd like to develop, including building blueprints, potential hazards and owner contact information.

And Google Glass isn't the only gee-whiz technology that public safety departments are evaluating. Here are three that fit the bill:

    • A smart shoe for first responders: Researchers in Sweden are working on an open source project called OpenShoe that, in a nutshell, integrate sensors into a shoe heel for real-time tracking in locations that GPS can't – underground, for instance. So far they've field tested it with firefighters but see potential for use by police, search and rescue and even medical teams.  Read more at govtech.com >>

    • Sticky GPS-enabled "bullets" for car chases: Police in St. Petersburg, Florida and Iowa state troopers are using air cannons mounted on patrol cars to fire GPS-enabled tracking tags (as shown here). The idea is they stick on the back of a fleeing suspect's car so police can track it, avoiding the high-speed chases that can result in accidents. Read more from CNet >>  

    • Simulation software will train Aussie police: Officers in Victoria, Australia will experience immersive training using software that sets up realistic simulations for a whole host of emergency and non-emergency environments – from counter-terrorism to emergency management, even basic leadership training. Read more at FutureGov >>
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