Digidog is just one of the three new technologies that the NYPD is planning to use as part of its overall plan to use innovative devices to increase safety. Two of the new devices are pilot programs.
What to Know
- The NYPD is welcoming a new member to its ranks: a robot dog. The robotic mobile K-9 device is part of a number of technological rollouts the city said is “crucial” in keeping the city safe.
- Mayor Eric Adams said that although the robotic dog was previously introduced during a previous administration, leaders then took a step back after public outcry. However, he said that his top concern is public safety.
- Opposition to the implementation of the new technology was quick as the The Legal Aid Society released a statement in response to an announcement from Adams and the NYPD on the deployment of what the non-profit called “new dystopian technologies to surveil New Yorkers.”
The NYPD is welcoming a new member to its ranks: a robot dog. The robotic mobile K-9 device is part of a number of technological rollouts the city said is “crucial” in keeping the city safe.
Mayor Eric Adams joined NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell and other police leadership Tuesday morning for a demonstration of three new pieces of technology that the department is planning to utilize as part of an overall plan to use new, innovative technologies to increase officers and resident safety.
The three new technologies are:
• StarChase: Provides a means to track vehicles by using a projectile that attaches a GPS enabled device which can then be tracked remotely. This is a pilot program that, among other things, will be used to locate ghost cars, cars with stolen plates used to commit other crimes to mitigate vehicle pursuits and keep the public and officers safe. “This is a game changer,” the NYPD said.
• Digidog (“Spot”): Remote-controlled, highly mobile K-9 robot for use in assessing hazardous situations. “Instead of sending police officers in there, you send Digidog,” Adams said, adding that the device will be used to “deescalate” situations. It will be used to assess high-risk situations and will “undoubtedly save lives, both of the police and the public,” the NYPD said. This device is not a pilot but rather already going to be part of the technological tools the NYPD has at its disposal. It will be used in hostage negotiations, counterterrorism incidents and other situations as needed.
• K5 Autonomous Security Robot (ASR): Conducts automated patrol in confined areas both indoors and outdoors, such as transit stations. It uses artificial intelligence to provide incident notification in real-time to first responders. This technology is already in used by other police departments, shopping malls and college campuses, among other areas that need additional patrol. This is a pilot program that the department hopes to start in the summer for next six months either in Times Square or a subway station.
“To safeguard our modern city in a forward-looking world, it is essential that out officers are equipped with the tools, training and technology necessary to do that job safely and effectively,” Sewell said in a Tuesday morning press conference in Times Square. “Throughout its history our department has leveraged the latest available technology and pioneered ways to do our work.”
Sewell went on to assure the public “that the use of this technology will be transparent, consistent and always done in collaboration with the people who we serve.”
Meanwhile, Adams shared similar sentiments, saying in part: “I’m a computer geek and I believe that technology is here. I believe we should not be afraid of it and as the commissioner stated: transparency is the key.”
Adams said that although the robotic dog was previously introduced during a previous administration, leaders then took a step back after public outcry. However, he said that his top concern is public safety.
“The two pilots that we are rolling out today to see how they fit in our public safety environment is matched with the Digidog, a robotic dog that could be used to save lives,” Adams said. “It was something that was introduced previously, under the previous administration and a few loud people were opposed to it and we took a step back — that is not how I operate. I operate on looking at what is best for the city.”
Opposition to the implementation of the new technology was quick as the The Legal Aid Society released a statement in response to an announcement from Adams and the NYPD on the deployment of what the non-profit called “new dystopian technologies to surveil New Yorkers.”
To safeguard our modern city in a forward-looking world, it is essential that out officers are equipped with the tools, training and technology necessary to do that job safely and effectively.NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell
“Mayor Adams continues to pour money into the NYPD’s bloated budget, enabling police to impose new, dystopian surveillance technologies throughout the city without meaningfully engaging New Yorkers in a conversation about whether this is how we want to live,” the Legal Aid Society’s statement said.
Although Adams and Sewell said that the city will be transparent in its use of the technology, The Legal Aid Society raised concern.
“This announcement is also another example of the NYPD’s violation of basic norms of transparency and accountability by rolling out these technologies without providing the public a meaningful opportunity to raise concerns. The City Council passed the POST Act two years ago to address this very issue, yet the NYPD has once again failed to engage its requirements of public comment before further expanding surveillance technology,” the non-profit’s statement continued.
“The Legal Aid Society urges the City Council to hold an immediate oversight hearing to further investigate the use of these technologies and to afford all New Yorkers the chance to have their voices heard.”
Meanwhile, Adams said that the three technological devices announced Tuesday is just the beginning in the implementation of new forms of technology for use in public safety.
“This is the beginning of a series of rollouts we are going to do to show how public safety has transformed itself…if we were not willing to move forward and use technology on how to properly keep cities safe, then you would not keep up with those who are doing harmful things to hurt New Yorkers,” Adams said.
“Our job is to fight crime and keep people safe, and these tools are significant steps forward in that vital mission,” Sewell said.
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