"Eventually, this will be a world-wide thing. It's really invaluable."
By ANGELA MONTEFINISE
The New York Post
NEW YORK — The NYPD plans to sign a $542,000 deal with Microsoft to bring the software company's highly touted Child Exploitation Tracking System to the city.
The CETS technology - which was launched in Toronto in 2004 but is not yet in the United States - connects law-enforcement agencies across the world, allowing police to share information to help nab child predators, particularly those who prey online.
"It's a really excellent program to deal with online predators," said Detective Constable Warren Bulmer of Toronto Police Services. "With CETS, as soon as we type an e-mail or name or anything else, we know right away if another department has already launched an investigation, and we can see their investigation.
"It definitely helps us catch people. It saves hours of double work, especially in Internet cases when there's no jurisdiction. Two detectives across the country can be studying the same guy."
To comply with city procurement rules, the NYPD released a mandatory "request for proposals" from other potential companies last week, but NYPD brass considers the Microsoft system "a unique product."
"We're looking at this system to see if it can assist our detectives with child exploitation cases," said Assistant Chief Michael Collins. "The system is being used across the world and getting good reviews, so we want to try it."
Collins said the NYPD "would use it in a variety of these types of cases," including online predators.
"The CETS will allow the department to collaborate and coordinate investigations of child exploitation with other police organizations around the world, including police organizations in Canada and Europe, who currently use the Microsoft CETS," according to the NYPD's request for proposals.
"The CETS will make use of existing capacity to link numerous existing NYPD child-exploitation databases with each other and with CETS databases of other police organizations world-wide."
The system actually analyzes data, Bulmer said, connecting "things detectives might not notice, like similar postal codes or similar e-mail addresses" to link cases together.
He remembered when CETS linked two seemingly different cases by connecting the same postal code, "That's something that probably would have been missed," Bulmer said. "Eventually, that guy was caught, and the system is a big reason."
The CETS system is currently in Canada, Britain, Italy, Brazil, Chile and Indonesia. There are plans to bring it to Australia, according to Bulmer, whose department actually helped develop the software.
His former colleague in Toronto, Paul Gillespie, sent an e-mail to Microsoft founder Bill Gates asking for help dealing with online predators, and Gates responded by creating CETS along with law-enforcement officials.
"Eventually, this will be a worldwide thing," he said. "It's really invaluable."
So far, the software has been tested in Wyoming, and some states have expressed interest, but the system has not been implemented in the United States, according to Microsoft spokeswoman Katie Ford.
"We are working with U.S. law enforcement toward the possible domestic deployment of CETS, and we are optimistic that it will happen," she said.
Copyright 2007 New York Post
NYPD gets child exploitation tracking software