Police Commissioner Ray Kelly proudly showed off the city's $200 million "Ring of Steel" surveillance technology to reporters yesterday inside the intimidating downtown Operation Command Center. Kelly, who seems to have serious mayoral aspirations, was effervescent in his praise for the program, which he says has helped cops arrest approximately 100 criminals in the subways in the past eight months alone. And as far as he's concerned, they're just getting started.
Last year at this time, there were only 500 cameras up-and-running in the program; as of now, there are almost 2,000 cameras fully operational, and Kelly said he expects to get 1,000 more installed within weeks, by the tenth anniversary of 9/11. The cameras provide real-time video images to the command center, and can analyze thousands of images to find a particular item; the program, paid for with federal funds, developed by Lockheed Martin, and managed by the MTA, also analyzes data from biological, chemical and radiological sensors.
Kelly said the program had met its first goal: "The problem here was to make the 1.7 miles south of Canal Street the safest business district anywhere." Because they've been so successful in apprehending suspects in everything from assault to robbery cases, Kelly expects the program will expand beyond lower Manhattan and midtown, with cameras eventually spread through the whole city. In case you were worried this might lead to some Big Brother/Minority Report-esque scenario suddenly coming to fruition (especially if Kelly succeeds in his quest to become mayor), he noted that video footage will automatically be deleted unless it relates to a specific investigation. Doubts assuaged!