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Press Release | Midtown Manhattan Security Initiative

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Monday, September 20, 2010


Hundreds of Cameras Inside Country’s Busiest Train Stations Now Viewable as Part of Expansion of Lower Manhattan Security Initiative to Midtown; Lower Manhattan and Midtown Programs Include License Plate Readers and Environmental Sensors

Commissioner Kelly, Mayor Bloomberg and MTA Chairman Walder announced the addition of subway cameras to the Midtown Manhattan Security Initiative, inside the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center on Monday.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, and MTA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jay Walder today announced the activation and integration of approximately 500 subway cameras in Times Square, Penn Station, and Grand Central Station into the Midtown Manhattan Security Initiative, an expansion announced last October which builds on the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative conceived by the NYPD in 2005. When complete, the Lower Manhattan and Midtown initiatives will cover parts of the City’s major centers of finance, commerce and government, transportation hubs and iconic landmarks, including the World Trade Center, with a network of CCTV cameras, license plate reader technology and radiation detection sensors that feed into and are monitored through the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center. The MTA cameras make up the majority of 689 cameras between 30th Street and 60th Street that currently feed into the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center. As of this month, the program includes a total of 1159 public and private-sector cameras, including those covering Lower Manhattan assets south of Canal Street. When it is complete, the Lower Manhattan and Midtown initiatives will include approximately 3,000 cameras.

“We will take whatever steps necessary, regardless of cost in Federal or City funds, to protect New York from terrorists,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Access to these cameras is a big step in providing the NYPD with the tools it needs to keep transit riders safe – something we urged during the mayoral election campaign last year.”

“As multiple attacks worldwide show, terrorists target mass transit systems for maximum casualties. In New York, we have thwarted plots in Times Square and Herald Square, and we know that the City remains in the crosshairs,” Commissioner Kelly said. “The Lower and Midtown Manhattan Security Initiatives are part of our response to an evolving and persistent threat, and the camera feeds being integrated today significantly bolster our efforts to protect millions of New Yorkers and visitors who ride the subway each day.”

MTA and NYPD ARGUS and Department of Transportation cameras (right) feed live video into the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center.

"The safety and security of our customers is the MTA's top priority, and I am thrilled to partner with Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly to keep customers safe at our busiest transit hubs," MTA Chairman and CEO Jay H. Walder said.  "Today we also see the impact of the MTA's new approach to implementing technology projects, with more than 1,400 cameras activated in the past six months alone. With the right focus we can make technology work for our customers, and you're beginning to see the results all across our system."

The announcement was made inside the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center, where NYPD personnel, MTA and Port Authority security personnel, alongside representatives from the private sector, work together to monitor video feeds and other real-time alerts transmitted to the Center from license plate readers and “911” police activity reports. The Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center is the central integration point for counterterrorism technology in both Lower and Midtown Manhattan. 

The NYPD began using advanced video analytic software in select cameras feeds earlier this year. When fully configured, the analytics can alert police in real-time to a variety of potentially suspicious objects or activities, including unattended parcels, movement in restricted areas, and unusual loitering, and enables investigators to search multiple cameras simultaneously to retrieve incidents of concern. As per the NYPD’s privacy policy established last April, footage is discarded after 30 days unless in the event of an investigation.

The Lower and Midtown Manhattan Security Initiatives are funded primarily through federal grants from the Department of Homeland Security.


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