Aug
18

A musing about the CCTV-equipped subway car

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While I was away on vacation, New York Post reporter Tom Namako broke the story of an upcoming subway car equipped with security cameras. According to Namako’s story, the MTA will equip one lettered subway car with at least one camera in every car. In this train, writes Namako, “every corner of every car will be in the cameras’ view.” What is interesting about this plan is its cost and practicality. It would not be feasible for the MTA to review every minute of every train ride, and it would be cost-prohibitive to equip every piece of rolling stock with cameras.

That does not mean, however, that this plan is without it merits. As Namako notes, the cameras will create a “computer-based log of events that can be viewed after a crime or emergency. No one will be watching the images live, but the cameras, authorities believe, will at least make would-be criminals think twice.” While MTA officials again cite terrorism concerns as a driving push behind this effort, if even cameras in select subway cars act as system-wide deterrents, this plan could be well worth it in the fight against vandalism and subway crime.



Categories : Asides, Subway Security

8 Responses to “A musing about the CCTV-equipped subway car”

  1. Josh Karpoff says:

    Seeing as we know that the MTA doesn’t have a working wireless network in the tunnels, we’re left to assume that the footage will be uploaded at a later time, such as when the trains are sitting in the yard for overnight storage or such. If this is the case, then if there is an act of terrorism, where a bomb goes off, how do they ensure that the stored video footage, which would be invaluable to investigators, would not be damaged?

    Are they essentially going to build a “fire safe” with a DVR in it somewhere on the train? If so, it might also be a good idea to have cameras looking out both ends of the train, for use in accident investigations. Sort of like an airplane’s flight data recorder.

    In order to get the most out of a video surveillance system, the MTA would need cameras at the station entrances, corridors, stairwells, fare control, Metrocard Vending Machines and platforms. The cameras should have a time sync with the clocks in the metrocard system. This would allow investigators to work their way back from the footage of the incident, see when they came through the turnstile, reverse look-up the ID# of the Metrocard used by the individual, and then find out the relevant data about that card and it’s user.

    If the MTA implemented a swipe-less fare system, they could even track the movement of the card in AND out of the system. Of course, if a criminal were smart, they’d jump the turnstile (why not if you’re already going to commit a crime) and then avoid having their movements monitored.

    • Alon Levy says:

      In London, the surveillance cameras mounted at every station helped the police track down the 2005 suicide bombers and raid their homes. However, said raids yielded no information on further terrorist attacks (the subsequent busted bombing was done by copycats), and the British surveillance network has been criticized for its civil liberties violations – the cameras are everywhere, even in front of the building where Orwell lived.

      The MTA already tracks MetroCard swipes. To track people going both in and out does not require RFID technology – all that’s needed is a rule requiring people to swipe both in and out. But New York has a flat fare, so such a rule would serve no useful purpose.

    • Chris says:

      If the MTA implemented a swipe-less fare system, they could even track the movement of the card in AND out of the system. Of course, if a criminal were smart, they’d jump the turnstile (why not if you’re already going to commit a crime) and then avoid having their movements monitored.

      You say this like its a good thing? The police need a warrant to put a GPS tracker on you, and that is the way it should be.

      -Chris

  2. Tom Cornell says:

    Don’t you just feel ‘secure’ all over?? Gives ya goose bumps!

  3. Josh says:

    I fail utterly to see why this is allowable but the use of cameras to enforce bus lanes is a violation of civil liberties.

  4. anonymous says:

    Why would it be cost prohibitive? I doubt cameras are the most expensive equipment on the trains.

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  1. […] some R160 at a certain point in the future would play host to the pilot. Last August, Transit again reiterated plans to beef up on-board security, and now, an E train will test run these […]

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