Friday, November 17, 2006

New York Bus Ride? Smile, You're On Camera

Bus ride? Smile, you're on camera

Wheels aren't the only things rolling on city buses. New York City Transit yesterday unveiled its latest high-tech video surveillance system, which will be installed in 450 buses by summer.Six buses already are armed with the cameras, which provide interior shots of passengers, as well as the driver's point of view. By January, 50 buses will be so armed and a total of 450 will have them by July as part of the $5.2 million pilot program.The system was unveiled at the Michael J. Quill Depot on the West Side."Video surveillance has clearly been shown to deter criminal activity," said Lawrence Reuter, president of New York City Transit.

The cameras, which will record every second of the bus' operation, will be available for investigators to use to piece together crimes or events that lead to a slip-and-fall lawsuit. They could also be used to identify terrorists after an attack - if the equipment survives. "We saw how London Transport video was effectively used to identify suspects in the July 2005 attacks," Reuter said.Each bus shift's recording will be permanently deleted after 90 days unless it is needed for an investigation, according to the MTA.

There are about 4,500 buses in NYC Transit's fleet, and if the Manhattan pilot program is deemed successful, it will be expanded systemwide. The TransitCam surveillance camera project was developed by Integrian Inc., a North Carolina-based company. The company, which is expected to generate $100 million in revenue this year, also has contracts with New Jersey Transit, the Dallas Police Department, the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, and the Milwaukee Police Department.The cameras can be upgraded to send the images back to a central command center in real time. The live video transmissions are something which is being considered, according to Charles Seaton, spokesman for NYC Transit.
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