One of my favorite things to do is to introduce my father to my friends and say, “This is my dad. He works at the the New York Police Department.” Then I can laugh in their impressed faces while explaining that he works as a software engineer, not a police officer.
Police officers get a lot of recognition and glory for their work, and rightfully so. However, it is important to remember the people working behind the scenes as well.
Freshman Navya Malapanagudi says, “Even though software engineers’ work isn’t as visible as cops’ is, that doesn’t mean it’s not as important. Their work helps cops and the police department do their job, which makes it just as important as police work.”
For the past nine years, Rajesh Nair has worked as a software engineer for the NYPD. His job requires skills in programming, business analysis, and communicating with users and department heads.
He is one of the 15,000 civilian members of the New York Police Department, supporting and working alongside the 34,000 UMOS (uniformed members of service) in the NYPD.
He works at One Police Plaza, which is the headquarters of the NYPD. His office is situated in downtown Manhattan, close enough to see the Brooklyn Bridge out of the window of his office building.
Nair is the team leader and supervisor of a team of five developers. He mentors and guides other developer teams as needed. Nair also often attends meetings to discuss department IT projects and goals, as well as the progress of ongoing projects.
Their job is to develop enterprise-level web applications using C# .NET, a framework used for programming. His department, the Information Technology Bureau (ITB), previously used ASP.NET, but the department is now embracing SharePoint and Nintex.
Nair has recently started working in Microsoft SharePoint and Nintex to create various department forms that require workflows to manage authorization and approvals of documents electronically.
Nintex is one of the products that allows developers to create electronic forms and attach workflows to them for approval from managers. For example, they use Nintex to create vacation forms that can be electronically submitted by employees.
These forms would be automatically routed to their manager for approval once submitted. The manager can then either approve, deny, or send the form back to the employee for correction. This eliminates the need for all the paperwork that the department has used in past years, helping the department to be more eco-friendly.
Google Classroom is an example of how workflows are used. Students can fill and then submit surveys created by teachers that are posted on their classroom pages. Teachers can then evaluate these surveys and provide feedback while grading them.
Junior Brandon Hafer says, “Classroom is really useful when it comes to working electronically on assignments. They’re just as helpful in business environments, so the platforms that NYPD software engineers make must be really important.”
Getting to the NYPD was no easy task. Nair has 28 years of experience in programming, as well as a background in fields like accounting and business.
Nair has a diploma in computer studies and a master’s degree (M.S.) in accounting. He also has a Microsoft certification in ASP.NET programming, certifications in Oracle, and training in SharePoint and Nintex.
Another way developers gain experience is by developing turnkey projects, or projects where developers work on an application from inception to deployment. In other words, they work from scratch until the project ends.
Developers also gather user requirements, perform business analysis, design or develop software, and successfully implement applications for various industries. This includes point of sale applications, accounting, payrolls, and inventory systems.
Five years ago, Nair was one of the key leaders of a team that wrote an application that enabled applicants for the NYPD police force to electronically submit their resumes to be considered for hire.
This was the first time this project was completed. Previously, the department had used a mainframe app that “had its shortcomings,” according to Nair, since it was an old system. The department had decided to decommission it in an effort to use cutting-edge and up-to-date technology.
The new application was a web application, meaning that the NYPD could process and track applicants.
The new app enabled the hiring division of the NYPD, which is now known as the Candidate Assessment Division, to manage and track each applicant’s progress through the hiring process.
The hire process consists of an application being received electronically from the public website. Candidates are then sent through initial screening and medical and psychological evaluations, as well as a physical test, known as the JST, and a background investigation. Once the candidate passes all of the above tests, they are considered for hire.
With the new app, the city of New York, or the mayor’s office, can approve of the officers being considered for hire more easily. The Candidate Assessment Division can enter information into app, and the system will select the number of approved candidates for hire.
The new system was developed to facilitate ease of use and more effectively enforce business rules. The app can check for requirements such as the minimum and maximum age of an applicant, along with minimum qualifications.
Nair received an award on November 11, 2013 from the City of New York for his contributions to and work done on the project. The commissioner of the IT department initially recommended it to him.
There are benefits to working in the NYPD, too. It is a city job with a pension, and it provides medical benefits after retirement.
In the end, a job as a software engineer in the NYPD is extremely rewarding. Developers have to use their skills and creativity to maintain the allow the NYPD to stay on top of the latest technology and do the best work it can do.
Based on this, what do you think of working as a software engineer for a government agency?