A Conversation with Jessica Tisch ’08

When Jessica Tisch become a pupil at Harvard, she in no way imagined operating on the New York Police Department. Still, after commencement, a chum’s advice led her to an activity with the NYPD’s counterterrorism bureau. Ten years later, Tisch J.D./M.B.A. ’08 is the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of information technology. She has positioned records-pushed policing gear within the palms of New York City’s 36,000 uniformed police officers, including 911 dispatch data and electronic report forms on iPhones. To see how officials use the generation, the 38-12 months-antique frequently rides alongside in police cruisers.

What had been your biggest accomplishments?


I think we’ve got a revolutionized regulation-enforcement era. We have given officers entry to statistics where and after they want it: in the subject and in real-time. The mobile platform that we built offers every cop an iPhone puts a pill in every car.

Historically, if I became a police officer responding to a 911 name for the carrier, I would handiest have a dispatcher’s summary of the data that a call-taker typed in, relayed by way of the 911 caller. It’s fourth-hand records. So we built a 911 app. Officers see, in actual time, all of the 911 jobs of their precinct. They see the text the call-taker typed into the system so that they don’t just rely upon a dispatcher’s precise. They can call the complainant lower back. If they’re responding to a domestic violence task, they could see if there’s a history of home violence in that place.

How did you grow to be operating for the NYPD?

Very randomly. I graduated with a J.D./M.B.A. In June 2008, and took the bar exam in July. The financial crisis becomes hitting, and I thought it’d be tough to find a job. A pal said: “Why don’t you cross-work on the NYPD? I realize someone there.” I said, “I can’t even imagine what someone like me might do in the Police Department.” I become positioned in contact with the deputy commissioner of counterterrorism at the NYPD. He stated, “Why don’t you come back paintings for me?” I said: “I don’t realize. Counterterrorism sounds honestly horrifying. I’m extra into ‘Law & Order’ form of stuff.” He stated: “Trust me, this could be proper for you. It’s what we rent civilians to do.”

Who had been your favored HLS professors?

An extraordinary professor, David Westfall, became my Property professor. I had Elizabeth Warren for Contracts. She was a magnetic speaker and trainer. It’s humorous, I see her on the campaign path now, and the manner she addresses the audiences takes my lower back. That became how active she was within the classroom.

How has the Contracts magnificence helped you?

We paintings with big generation organizations: IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, Apple, AT&T, Verizon. We spend masses of millions of greenbacks a yr on era contracts. I ensure those contracts are based so that the NYPD receives the most fee out of the taxpayer greenbacks we spend. I can hint all of that lower back to my Contracts elegance, know-how, basic principles of contracts, and the way they paintings.

How else have you ever benefited from your Harvard Law schooling?

Every day in my activity, I address coverage, deal with procedures, and do negotiations. My criminal schooling seeps into it all. Harvard Law School taught me the way to suppose, how to put arguments collectively. It changed the manner I method problems that don’t have anything to do with the law once in a while.

How frequently do you exit with the officials to see how the tech works for them?

All the time. To do my activity well, you really need to understand how the officers do their activity; only in the information may you layout structures and answers that assist them. A lot of my job includes speaking to them and getting their remarks. Most of our excellent ideas come immediately from cognizance groups with officers.

I’ve long gone to robberies. I’ve long gone to shootings. We deployed this new technology a few years in the past known as ShotSpotter: We positioned audio gunshot detection sensors on the roofs of homes in precincts where we’ve greater shootings. Those sensors triangulate to the exact place wherein gunshots had been fired and send an actual-time alert to the officers inside the subject. It’s quite nifty.

When we first deployed it, I rode around with officers in Brooklyn. The alert came in over the officers’ telephone; they listened to the gunshots’ audio and spoke back straight away. They interviewed witnesses and, in the long run, made an arrest.

What are you able to learn electronically approximately what goes on in the town?

From my cellphone, I can see every 911 task citywide. I can see all the desired flyers, all missing-individual flyers. I can see all or most NYPD schooling because we built a distance-getting knowing app in which officials can take training and do quizzes. I can post an employee suggestion. I can view CCTV from the 20,000 cameras that we have deployed across the metropolis.

What does your office appear to be? What’s in it?

I wanted my workplace to appear to be a tech space, so it’s mostly white. It’s no longer a conventional NYPD office, which is normally darkish, with timber furniture. I preserve what we call our legacy treasures on a large shelf. It’s nearly a museum of vintage NYPD IT that we’ve decommissioned. I actually have the antique electricity switch from the legacy mainframe 911 gadget. I actually have one of the first legacy mobile gadgets that we used, kind of a pager. I actually have an antique black-and-white CCTV surveillance-digital camera viewing box. And I have modern-day stuff: frame cameras, a mobile radiation detector.