NYC surveillance initiative is triple threat to terrorism

Project to install 3,000 cameras, license-plate readers and hazardous materials detectors

With terrorist threats an ever-present concern in the minds of Americans, and especially New Yorkers, the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative – originally instituted in 2005 by the New York Police Department – has commenced work on its plan to install license-plate readers; biological, chemical, nuclear and radiation detectors; and some 3,000 cameras in New York City.

One of the areas to be covered includes the 1.7 square miles south of Canal Street that was targeted on Sept. 11, 2001 in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, according to an article in the Concord Monitor.

Related stories:

Under surveillance: Cities struggle to balance safety, privacy

Surveillance cameras go public in Minnesota county

"This is a critical component of the nation, indeed of the world's financial system," said Brian Michael Jenkins, a terrorism specialist at the Rand Corp., a Santa Monica, Calif.-based policy group, in the article. "A major disruption caused by a terrorist attack inside this perimeter could have cascading economic consequences across the planet.”

More than 1,300 cameras, up from just 300 present in February 2009, have already been installed in public areas to watch for any potential terror threats, according to Paul Browne, a spokesman for the NYPD.

The Homeland Security Department will fund 90 percent of the initiative, which has grown in estimated costs from $81.5 million in 2006 to $201 million today. The rest of the funding, some $42 million, will be requested as the project, which is expected to be complete in 2013, progresses.

The initiative is not without resistance, including budget cuts in federal terrorism grants and challenges from the New York Civil Liberties Union arguing the project infringes upon people’s right to privacy and that it will not thwart any attacks.

Nonetheless, the plan is moving forward with the cameras currently divided between the original area and Midtown, according to Brown. Additionally, Times Square, Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal received 586 subway cameras in October.

About the Author

Connect with the GCN staff on Twitter @GCNtech.

inside gcn

  • When cybersecurity capabilities are paid for, but untapped

Reader Comments

Fri, Nov 19, 2010

The camera plans are security theatre, but the article mentions in passing a salient point- south end of Manhattan is still a telecom and economic choke point, even if not an outright SPOF any more. I know a lot of the stock and financial companies heard the wake-up call on 9-11, and moved (or at least set up fail-over sites), so another attack wouldn't leave them out of business. It really needs to become SOP for all government agencies and large companies- put your important stuff someplace where it won't be collateral damage when a prime target gets hit. Security through geographic dispersity, etc. Cost of living is usually lower out in the boonies, anyway.

Thu, Nov 18, 2010 Jeffrey A. williams

Well now that this plan has been publisized the would be terrorists will find less observed territory in which to strike. Secondly, it is at least doubtful that these measures are as effective as some might think as countermeasures for some are readily avaliable now. So, seems to me that a better expendature of perhaps allot less of the tax payers $$ would be to restrict ALL incomming traffic of any sort from Terrorist states including cargo, air cargo, and ship/container cargo.

Thu, Nov 18, 2010 Drew

Mark a another place I liked to visit off the list.

Thu, Nov 18, 2010

one might think this is a boom for the economy (becoming a police state), but in reality it's not, because it all comes out of tax dollars! this is really wasteful spending just like all the airport scanning equipment. if a terrorist really wanted to commit something really spectacular... they would only have to go to a crowded indoor shopping mall. this is at best an NP-complete problem. those who are fueling this paranoia, are as my grandfather would say: "...picking grassseed out of horse [manure] with boxing gloves on..."... the NYC approach is pure wackiness.

Thu, Nov 18, 2010

George Orwell would be proud and only 26 years off the mark,

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group