The NYPD is using at least $24 million of federal money to expand the "Ring of Steel" surveillance network to midtown. But would it have caught the SUV bomb that was parked on 45th Street in Times Square on Saturday? Yes and no, say those with familiarity with the high-tech plans.
The midtown monitoring network, which would cover the areas between 34th and 59th Streets from river to river, is an extension of the surveillance system in Lower Manattan. Security cameras would transmit information in real time to a coordination center at 55 Broadway, while license plate readers record and track every vehicle in the midtown zone. (The plate readers are already in use.) But police officials tell the Times that "because neither the SUV used in the attempt nor the license plate on it had been reported stolen, it would not have raised any immediate red flags."
However, the SUV could have triggered the surveillance network's chemical, biological and radiological sensors. During a press conference yesterday, NYPD chief Ray Kelly said that so if there's a bag left unattended on the sidewalk for too long, the surveillance software would pick it up, and if a car circles a block many times, the software would also detect that. "There really isn’t a downside to it," Louis Anemone, the former head of security for the MTA, tells the Times. "Next time it may not get this far because of the technology." Until then, street vendors are our first line of defense.