Microsoft's CityNext initiative helps fight crime in Baltimore

Microsoft's CityNext initiative helps fight crime in Baltimore

Microsoft’s CityNext initiative has partnered with EastBanc Technologies to help fight crime in the city of Baltimore. The tech company has been developing software solutions for mobile, Business Intelligence, cloud and development operations, and Microsoft CRM since it was founded in 1999 and has recently been trying to make a greater positive impact on society according to its Head of Microsoft Department, Peter Shashkin.

“We want to build solutions for our customers that have a big, positive impact on people’s lives.” He says in a post on Microsoft’s Partner Network blog. “One way we’ve been able to do that recently is through our partnership with Microsoft through Microsoft’s CityNext initiative, a program designed to help governments, businesses, and citizens reimagine what’s next for their cities.”

As part of the initiative, EastBanc Technologies developed a SharePoint-based CitiWatch web application which allows the Baltimore Police Department to use personal and business owned video security networks in the event of a crime investigation through an opt-in process. Any business or resident in Baltimore can volunteer access to their video security network through the SharePoint-based system and when access is needed, the police can search for potential footage they can use which is listed with location records, amount of recording kept on file, and the contact information for the owner of the cameras so they can request the footage.

“Time can be of the essence,” Peter Shashkin explains. “Many security systems overwrite footage that is not preserved so having the information on SharePoint means police can quickly target the cameras that may have valuable footage and work efficiently to recover it before it’s irretrievably lost.”

The City of Baltimore began utilizing SharePoint in late 2014 and already has around 300 privately owned cameras registered. While the program has only been running for a short while, Peter Shashkin sees a future where similar technology is used even more to help create a society that is both safe and respects the privacy of its citizens and explains and says, “Because the CityWatch application is scalable and repeatable, we are already in talks with other police departments in other cities to implement similar programs. It’s very gratifying to know we’re helping make cities safer by filling in surveillance gaps; because it’s a voluntary opt-in program, we’re doing it without compromising privacy.”

Microsoft’s CityNext initiative works with numerous organizations, governments and individuals with the aim to create more sustainable and successful cities. The projects involved in the initiative cover a variety of social and economic issues from fighting hunger on the streets of New York City in the U.S.A. to streamlining government communications in Brisbane, Australia and modernizing the subway system in London, England.

Last year Microsoft even announced that through the CityNext initiative they would be assisting in the creation of new “smart cities” in China by implementing a program of sensors and data collection while encouraging the training and education of workers in modern technologies.

It’s inspiring to see a company as large as Microsoft become so actively involved in changing the world for the better. How would you like to see technology change your city? Share your thoughts with us and other WinBeta readers in the comments below.

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