New York City installs first batch of

Published 17 April 2006

New York is following London and other cities in building a “ring of steel” surveillance system around downtown, and the first installment in this plan is going up now

New York City has launched it ambitious plan to combat street crime and terrorism. The central feature of the plan:” series of wireless video cameras sitting on top of lamp posts about thirty feet above the sidewalk. The 500-camera plan would cost of $9 million. Hundreds of additional cameras could follow if the city receives $81.5 million in federal grants it has requested to safeguard Lower Manhattan and parts of midtown with a surveillance “ring of steel” modeled after security measures in London’s financial district. The city already has about 1,000 cameras in the subways, with 2,100 scheduled to be in place by 2008. An additional 3,100 cameras monitor city housing projects.

New York’s approach isn’t unique. Chicago spent roughly $5 million on a 2,000-camera system. DHS officials in Washington plan to spend $9.8 million for surveillance cameras and sensors on a rail line near the Capitol. Philadelphia has increasingly relied on video surveillance.

The New York police were impressed that their British counterparts drew on 80,000 videotapes to identify and retrace the routes of the subway system suicide bombers and the suspects in a failed follow-up attack. Timothy Horner, a specialist with the Kroll security firm and a former NYPD captain, said the measures make sense. “It’s not a cure-all, and the department is not thinking that way,” he said. “But we really want law enforcement to use whatever tools they can to keep us safe.”