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In a sign that the police are beginning to embrace their growing role in data-mining, the Philadelphia Police Department announced Friday that it will use Google’s Street View imagery to help police with traffic enforcement.
The move comes after a new set of data requests from residents began to surface on Twitter.
These requests, which include details of where people have been or where they are going, are being sent to police with the hope that the information will help them solve crimes.
But police departments around the country have faced criticism that they are violating citizens’ privacy when they use Google Street View images to track down suspects.
Google and other technology companies have also come under fire for their use of images of citizens in their Street View reports.
As of January 1, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has received nearly 1.2 million requests for data from police agencies, according to data obtained by The Associated Press.
That figure is nearly five times as many as it received in 2015, when there were about 1.1 million such requests.
The AP’s analysis also showed that nearly all of the requests come from people living outside the Philadelphia area, with nearly all being from outside the city of Philadelphia.
Philadelphia police say they received requests from people in Los Angeles, Austin, Atlanta and Houston, as well as from a handful of other cities.
A new set is expected to emerge in the coming months, with more than 500 requests for photos from Philadelphia police, the department said in a news release.
The department has been able to make use of these requests for about two weeks, the release said.
“We have received hundreds of requests from police departments across the nation and across the country and will continue to receive them until we have the information that we need to make an arrest,” Police Chief Stephen P. Davis said in the news release, adding that he plans to “continue to use all available information to make the arrests that we want to make.”
The city has received over 1,400 requests for information from the public, according the release, including about 700 from the Philadelphia Public Schools.
The use of the Street View data to help the police is just the latest effort to use the technology to help with law enforcement.
In March, the Department of Justice announced a partnership with Google to use Street View to help combat crimes in a number of cities.
Last month, Google and the federal government teamed up to help train police to use Google Glass, a wearable computer that can be worn on the face or hands and is used by police to document events.
The new partnership with the Philadelphia police is part of a larger partnership Google has with the Department to use its Street View technology to improve its services.
The partnership also includes data sharing between Google and Philadelphia.