I stepped out of my quarters, the familiar weight of the place pressing down on me. The scope of my assignment here was being expanded dramatically alongside the director’s growing regret of having me here. He was giving me free room and board in exchange for my expertise in criminal investigations; so far my service had been tested by a single case of stolen identity when one of our older guests had mistakenly ordered meal service using another’s account number. My pager was ringing more frequently and I was becoming more of a problem solver and less of an investigator. To be honest, I didn’t mind the extra work. I couldn’t very well sit in my quarters for the rest of eternity waiting for one of us to become a murder victim. Even if that did happen, the pool of potential suspects would already be artificially limited to the 144 souls who lived down here in the Nest. It gave me a chance to meet everyone here, as well as find out how many doors my neat little swipe card would really open in this place. I had a feeling it wouldn’t open them all.
I’ve been an operator for a little over a year now. I operate what is known to the public as an Ambassador. My Ambassador’s official name is 28105-ORB. I call him Orby.
It goes something like this. There are many ways that a citizen can make a complaint about a crime or a quality of life violation. We’ll focus on an emergency call, let’s say a robbery in the park. A man has just walked his son to a friend’s house, and is now on his way back to his house. He decides to take a shortcut through the park. He is set upon by an unknown assailant, who approaches his victim, knocks him to the ground, then goes through his pockets and takes his wallet. The man is understandably stunned and shocked, and he takes a few seconds to get his bearings and realize what has happened. During this time, the robber has been making a hasty getaway, on foot, through the park to his block.
The man simply gets himself to his feet, if he can, or crawls no more than ten feet to a small circle that sits in the ground. It is an alert module. It is circular and red, six inches in diameter, and is attached to a web of sensors that connect it to the underground network. We also have wireless modules, but the response time is somewhat delayed, and for our example in an urban setting, the wired version is appropriate.
The sensor immediately reads the hand of the crime victim and senses an elevated heart rate – indicating a heightened stress level. It also pulls fingerprints and a DNA sample. An identification of the man is made nearly instantaneously. At this point all surrounding sensors are activated within a 100 yard radius and the modules begin pulling DNA samples from any airborne particulates – sweat, saliva, hair, skin cells – and processes them for identities.
The man can speak and tell the module what has happened – each module has a boundary microphone which is activated and will record and whatever the man says. Language algorithms will interpret whatever the man says and respond appropriately.
Module Response Porters – or Merps – will have been dispatched immediately. Merps are quick and nimble, brightly colored, lightly armored, upright machines; running on two rubberized tracks, a humanoid torso and head a Merp has two crane-like arms with articulating fingers designed for aiding humans, and high-definition cameras for eyes. There are porters stationed throughout the city in regular intervals. They do not move but to respond when summoned by the modules.
The closest Merp will respond directly to the activated module. The remaining merps will surround the module at staggered 20- and 40-yard intervals in 360 degrees to collect visual information, enhance the air analysis already begun by the modules, and to begin an initial pursuit of suspects if necessary. Response time is no more than twenty seconds to the initial module. If suspect pursuit is required, a Merp can command the response of one or more Crisis Intervention Specialists, or CriSpecs, to engage.
The responding Merp – now known as Alpha for case purposes – will locate the victim and instantly determine the proper protocol to execute in the following order: access victim’s memory, render aid, transmit description of perpetrator, determine crime committed, analyze victim’s skin and clothing for trace evidence.
Assuming no apprehension is made on the scene, this is where Orby comes in……