Friday, November 17, 2006

New York MTA - Moving Images


Roll camera.

The MTA began recording surveillance footage on six city buses yesterday in a pilot program that by next year will equip 450 buses - half of Manhattan's fleet - with cameras.
The cameras further the agency's long-term plan to flood the bus and subway system with so many cameras that straphangers might one day need to swipe a Screen Actors Guild card at the turnstile, an observer quipped.
If successful, the $5.2 million pilot program will be expanded to all 4,500 city buses. That's on top of thousands of cameras already in place at subway stations and the thousands more being considered for subway cars, officials said.
"Video surveillance has clearly been shown to deter criminal activity on buses and we also believe that it will be extremely valuable in investigating accident-injury claims," NYC Transit President Lawrence Reuter said.
Transit officials admit the cameras will be better at deterring false-accident lawsuits and two-bit vandalism than they will at stopping terrorism.
In fact, if a terrorist did blow up a bus, the computer hard drive storing the footage would likely be destroyed, officials said.
The crime rate on buses is so low, the agency does not even track it separately, but about three slip-and-fall customer accidents occur each day.
The six to seven cameras installed on each bus will record everything from the moment the driver turns the ignition until the bus returns to the depot.
Collisions will be automatically red-flagged by the system along with any incidents the driver marks by pressing a red button.
When the bus is brought in to refuel, the digital video will be transmitted from the on-board computer hard drive to a central server, where the red-flagged portions will be immediately viewed by a supervisor.
The camera angles will include the driver's point of view, the doors and farebox, and the bus interiors, said Ian Arcuri, project manager for Integrian, the company awarded the contract.
The drivers will not be recorded, to the relief of union leaders who feared the footage would be used for disciplinary purposes.
"The driver should never feel he is being scrutinized by the cameras," said Transport Workers Union vice president Bill Pelletier.
"But this could be a deterrent to stop people from physically abusing the drivers or throwing objects."