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Coming to the Big Screen: NYPD View

The New York City Police Dept. is awash in data. Every year, it's flooded with 12 million emergency calls and hundreds of thousands of arrest records. Over the last 10 years, it has mined that data to help reduce crime by a stunning 70%.

Now, it wants to take the process one step further. It's setting up a new command center to study the flow of information in real time, according to V. James Onalfo, the NYPD's deputy commissioner for technology development.

How will it see all that data? It plans to construct a massive screen using cutting-edge technology from monitor maker Mitsubishi, software outfit Activu, and integrator Imtech. Onalfo described the technology, which was on display at the technology show CeBIT in New York, as "very powerful stuff." The NYPD's move demonstrates the ever-increasing importance of display technology. The volume of data is growing dramatically, and the Web is filled with rich sites loaded with complex graphics and video. None of that is worth very much if you can't see it.

DETAILS REVEALED. The system's heart is a monitor cube from Mitsubishi. These can be stacked together like building blocks to create huge installations. New Jersey Transit's command center boasts a display of over 177 monitors covering three walls. Using the special server and software that complete the package, video and data can be placed in windows that include an unlimited number of cubes. That would allow the NYPD to actually see all the pinpoints on its huge maps and charts.

The Activu Display System pushes the limits of technology beyond today's state-of-the-art plasma screens. The individual monitors built by Mitsubishi use digital light-processing technology. Unlike plasma monitors, Mitsubishi's DLP monitors don't overheat and don't leave ghost images burned into the screen. DLP has slightly better resolution and a lifespan that's four- to five-times longer than plasma.

Imtech's system also stands out because of advances in software integration. Many other large display systems used in control rooms are based on custom technology. Imtech uses off-the-shelf products, a cheaper and more efficient approach. When the servers that control the Mitsubishi displays need to be upgraded, it can be done without paying more for a customized installation, says Paul Johrden, Imtech's regional sales manager. The system also can be used to manage the flow of information between two displays in more than one location.

All this gives the NYPD a better visual grip on its flood of data. Anything less would be a crime. By Jason Strasser in New York

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