Cameras in the New York City Subways
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.
I’ve spent the last few months, on and off, reporting on New York’s counter-terror programs for the magazine. One major problem with the subway surveillance program has been wedging a modern security network into a 5,000 square-mile system that recently celebrated its hundredth birthday. Getting the power and air-conditioning needed for the cameras’ servers has been a nightmare. In many stations, there’s literally no place to put the things. Plus, the ceilings in most of the subway stations are only nine feet high, and there are columns every few yards. Which makes it very hard to get a good look at the passengers.