Thursday, January 24, 2008

NYC's Subway Spycam Network Stuck in the Station

New York City's plan to secure its subways with a next-generation surveillance network is getting more expensive by the second, and slipping further and further behind schedule.

A new report by the New York State Comptroller's office reveals that "the cost of the electronic security program has grown from $265 million to $450 million, an increase of $185 million or 70 percent." An August 2008 deadline has been pushed back to December 2009, and further delays may be just ahead.

Shortly after a series of bombings in the London Tube, The Metropolitan Transit Authority, which oversees New York's mass transit systems, signed a contract in 2005 with defense contractor Lockheed Martin to put in thousands of security cameras, electronic tripwires, and digitally-controlled gates into New York's sprawling network of subways. The deal was inked just a few months after MTA chairman Peter Kalikow argued against "wasting money on unproven technology."

At the heart of the program was a network of surveillance cameras, passing what they saw through a set of intelligent video algorithms, designed to spot suspicious behavior: a bag left on the subway platform, a person jumping down to the tracks, a mob running up a down escalator.

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