New York City plans subway cameras (again)

Published 28 March 2007

After an aborted attempt in 2000, transit authorities ask two subway car manufacturers to propose ways of installing digital cameras

Here is a government initiative that might convince us to ride the New York City subway system without our bulletproof vests. The city’s transit authority has asked the two companies that manufacture its subway cars to propose ways that they could incorporate digital security cameras into their designs — the idea being, of course, to produce evidence of crimes that are not sufficiently deterred. The move is just the latest in the attempt to beef up transit surveillance, with the Metropoliltan Transit Authority also currently deploying cameras at stations on 450 Manhattan buses. “The goal is to examine where the technology is and whether it’s feasible to do it,” said spokesman Paul Fleuranges. “We’ve done that for buses, we’ve done that for stations. Now we have to do that for subway cars.” Not that it will be easy. A similar pilot program in 2000 was found to be too expensive, and there are real technical challenges involved in installing any delicate equipment in a transit environment. As anyone who has traveled on New York’s subways knows, vibration, grime, and physical assault are part of the experience. If a human being can hardly stand it, we wonder how a camera will survive.