500 new surveillance cameras went live yesterday inside the Times Square, Penn Station and Grand Central subway station, and 500 more are on the way. At a press conference yesterday at the Minority Reportish Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center, Mayor Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly unveiled the new surveillance system, which provides real-time video images to the command center, and can analyze thousands of images to find a particular item. "If we're looking for a person in a red jacket, we can call up all the red jackets filmed in the last 30 days," Kelly told reporters. "We're beginning to use software that can identify suspicious objects or behaviors." (Note to terrorists: red jackets are not a good look for you.)
The $200 million system, paid for with federal funds and mismanaged by the MTA and Lockheed Martin, is part what will one day be a 3,000-camera network of "public and private-sector cameras, including those covering Lower Manhattan assets south of Canal Street," according to a press release. Soon software will sound an alarm when cameras spot unattended bags, cars going the wrong way or people entering restricted areas, the Daily News reports. There are no plans to filter footage from all existing subway cameras through the command center, probably because most of them are old and crappy.
At the downtown surveillance bunker near Wall Street, footage is discarded after 30 days unless in the event of an investigation, but the NYCLU has filed multiple lawsuits against the city to obtain more details about the so-called "Ring of Steel" surveillance network, which has until now functioned above ground. The NYCLU questions the scope of information that's collected, how the police use the information, and who the information's shared with. But straphangers who spoke with CBS 2 yesterday weren't worried about Big Brother. "Absolutely. Why not? Like, it’s our protection," opined Blake Clendenin of Hell’s Kitchen. "It’s an invasion of privacy, but if I’m in the subway I like the cops looking over my shoulder," added local sheep Barry Zimmerman.