As on Tuesday, every New York City subway vehicles will have surveillance cameras installed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The cameras, according to Democratic New York Governor Kathy Hochul, would increase users’ trust in the security of the subway system. A trial operation that saw cameras put in 100 vehicles was expanded to include the installation of two cameras in each of the 6,355 subway carriages. According to the MTA, the project should be finished by 2025.
The installation will cost $3.5 million from the MTA, and the final $2 million will come from a grant from the Urban Area Security Initiative of the US Department of Homeland Security. More than 470 subway stations currently have security cameras, albeit they aren’t always functional.
The decision on Tuesday comes five months after a very uncommon event in which a man started firing a rifle at commuters on a Brooklyn subway train, hitting ten people. Everyone who was injured survived, however issues with the station’s security cameras made it difficult for authorities to find the gunman. The manufacturer of the cameras utilised in the trial programme or if the vendor will still be employed in the expansion were both refused by an MTA official.
The New York Civil Liberties Union said that the MTA was keeping information concerning monitoring overly hidden and had provided no information about how camera data will be examined and retained, as well as no proof that increasing the use of cameras improved safety. In a statement, Daniel Schwarz, a technology and privacy strategist with the NYCLU, stated, ‘Living in a pervasive surveillance state shouldn’t be the price we pay to be safe’.
After the COVID-19 epidemic hit the US in 2020, subway use plunged, but has since slowly recovered to roughly 3.7 million journeys on an average daily. Police figures show that there have been more than 390 robberies on the subway so far this year, compared to more than 320 during the same time last year.
There are more urgent areas for investment, according to Danny Pearlstein, a representative for the transportation advocacy organisation Riders Alliance. In the end, he added, ‘the governor should also make a targeted investment in more regular public transport service to reduce platform wait times and attract more users, promoting safety in numbers’.