São Paulo invests $4.3m in Microsoft crime fight system

São Paulo invests $4.3m in Microsoft crime fight system

Summary: The surveillance platform analyzes real-time crime data and was previously implemented in New York City


The state of São Paulo is investing R$9.7m ($4.3m) in the joint development of a crime data aggregation and analysis platform with Microsoft.

Detecta is a crime monitoring system that indexes large amounts of police information and creates automatic associations between the data, allowing police officers to tap into live video camera feeds, emergency calls, mapped crime statistics, and license plate readers to fight crime.

Officers are able to access the system through desktop and mobile devices across the center of military police operations, the center for civil police communications and operations and the public security intelligence body of the state of São Paulo.

The technology behind Detecta has been in place in New York City for counter-terrorism purposes and surveillance since 2012. This is the first time that the tool will be used outside of New York City.

The Data Processing Company of São Paulo, Prodesp, will manage the servers that will host the platform. According to Microsoft, the first results of the deployment are expected to be seen four months after its implementation.

In the first three months, the technology company will work on the adaptation of the system to Brazilian standards and training for the system’s first users, as well as the actual implementation. In the fourth month, alerts of 10,000 patterns of crimes that have been identified in New York City will be adapted to the needs of the São Paulo police.

During the remainder of the ten-month contract, Microsoft will then be responsible for developing new alerts and best practices for the the system following the initial implementation experiences in São Paulo.

"This system will allow a leap in the quality of the police investigation and also prevention and patrols," said Fernando Grella Vieira, São Paulo's Secretary of Public Security, adding that there is scope for a nationwide roll-out of the system with integration with other states.

Topics: Microsoft, Government, Mobility, Security

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  • Person of Interest

    • I'm told...

      ...that crime is a major problem in big Brazilian cities, which makes these sorts of systems very tempting (there wouldn't be much point in deploying them where I live). But I'm also told that official corruption is a problem as well, so the city fathers (and especially their constituents) are going to have to keep a close eye on how this will be used, as the blackmail potential is substantial.
      John L. Ries
      • This is not how it works here

        The police are corrupt, yes, but this works more as lying in bed with organized crime, accepting bribes to facilitate or turn a blind eye to their activities, and occasionally taking part in their schemes, especially drug traffic, kidnapping and ATM robbery. Using such a system to obtain sensitive information to blackmail citizens would require too high-level an access to go unnoticed and not to politically involve and compromise high-ranking officials.
        • Good to know

          Thanks for the clarification.
          John L. Ries
  • Not the first technological "revolution" to be implemented...

    ...and I predict it will fail like all others, first because the political will to seriously tackle crime with all it would take is lacking, because no one wants to pay the political price. And secondly, because any information system is as good as the information that feeds it. The idea of all levels of the inept state security apparatus diligently collecting all the required information and feeding it to the system, with the administrative chaos that such services are, would be nothing short of laughable if it weren't so tragic... :-(

    This system will serve a useful purpose, though: it will look and sound really good in the electoral advertising time on TV later this year...
    • So what is the political price to tackle crime?

      Corruption is a tough nut to crack whereever you go, and where organized crime is endemic, you have people with lots of money at stake to do what it takes to keep the rackets going.

      So what is your proposal to get crime under control in Brazil. We have crime problems in the USA too, so maybe you'll have something we can use as well.
      John L. Ries
      • The political price comprises a lot of things

        In no particular order:

        1. Reforming the criminal codex and the criminal prosecution codex (which are two different, separate and independent things in the Brazilian law system; the former simply establishes what is considered a crime and what should the punishment be, while the latter establishes the legal proceedings, which appeals are possible under which circumstances, and so on). There are way too many appeals possible that keep criminals (especially wealthy ones) free but skew the balance against poor defendants who can't pay for good attorneys. But reforming that would be too much trouble, too much discussion, fighting against the judiciary (which benefits from the current state of things by keeping courts busy and inflated with both judges and clerical jobs) and no direct political or material gain for our legislators, who always see their job as a kind of barter trade. "What will I gain if I vote for that?"

        2. Related to the previous one: giving courts the means, both legal and material, to conduct speedy yet fair trials. In Brazil, nobody likes to reach into the public pockets to pay for things that don't look flamboyantly grandiose on TV, especially in election years. And judges would love the idea at first, but not so much when told that it would imply reorganizing their structure and methods, and would staunchly oppose it then, calling it an interference in the judiciary's independence and sabotaging the process all they could. You see, privileged Brazilians love their privileges, and judges more so than anyone else. Yet Italy did it - but only when Mafia became so powerful that it threatened the fabric of power and state structures. I hope we don't come to that point.

        3. Revamping the police system, paying them well, but also raising the bar of their study level, qualification and training, while creating mechanisms to punish corrupt officers independent from their own organizations (under the current system, the police are in charge of policing themselves, and corporatism usually prevents anything from being done in most cases). Anyone who proposed that in Congress or in the state legislatures would be dead with a bullet in his head within a week. And that also implies more money into things that are not very visible (a new highway looks much better on screen).

        4. As more criminals would be caught, tried and jailed, more prisons would be needed, while existing ones would need to be revamped (physically and administratively). All the problems mentioned above apply, and a few others: everybody wants criminals in jail, but no one wants a jail to be built nearby, and the average Brazilian citizen usually frowns upon spending money with criminals.

        5. Empowering the Armed Forces and the Federal Police to make our borders as impenetrable as possible to illicit drugs and weapons. What is possible may not be much, as this is a huge country that borders 10 others, has a very long coastline and borders are often very remote. Moreover, not even the U.S. with all its might, money, commitment and technology has been able to stop the flow of drugs from Mexico (not even mentioning other routes). But as far as feasible, it should be done. Again, too far to be visible to the population, too far even to be controlled and managed effectively, and besides, giving too much money, weapons and power to the military is sensitive in a country that in the recent past spent 21 years under their boots (even the current president was tortured by them and nearly killed).

        6. All I proposed above deals with crime after it happens, but it's much better to prevent crime. What is most effective to discourage crime is having something to lose. Large masses of Brazilians, especially in the impoverished peripheral districts of our cities (here it's the opposite from the U.S.: the more suburban, usually the poorest, more destitute and violent the place is), have nothing to lose by going the criminal way. Give them decent education, health, work opportunities and pay. Far from easy anywhere, but it has to start with serious political will to improve people's lives. Unfortunately, Brazilian mentality likes to keep people "in their place" just as in the slave-based agrarian economy of the 19th century, with a thin layer of modernity. (I remember when a new governor in Brasília suspended a very effective social program by his predecessor because his wife complained that she couldn't get maids to iron her dresses any more - see what I mean?) Those in power know how to manipulate those masses and get their vote, and would panic at the prospect of having to work seriously and hard for *them* instead of themselves, losing many of their privileges.

        As in Aesop's fable, everybody knows what needs to be done, but who's going to be the first one to bell the cat?
        • One man with courage is a majority

          The greatest service Robert Kennedy ever performed for his country was taking on organized crime (while he was serving as Attorney General in his brother John's administration). It hasn't been easy; it probably hurt his Democratic Party politically (the crime bosses had close connections to urban Democratic machines), but it had to be done. And as a consequence, fifty years later, the U.S. Mafia is a shadow of its former self. And I suspect the fight did get some people killed (but from all accounts, Mr. Kennedy himself was murdered for an entirely different reason; though it may have been a factor in his brother's death).

          Brazil has a problem and I think your suggestions are good ones. But nothing is going to happen until/unless at last one someone (not necessarily a politician) publicly makes fighting organized crime a priority; even at the risk of his own life.

          The quote in the subject line was from Andrew Jackson, Seventh President of the US and the founder of the US Democratic Party. He was right.
          John L. Ries