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London Eyes Closed-Circuit Cams In New York Subways

London may soon follow New York's lead with smart closed-circuit television cameras.
London may soon follow New York's lead with smart closed-circuit television cameras.

Though the United Kingdom has been known as a bigger user of surveillance for law enforcement than the United States, authorities in London are a step behind New York when it comes to installing intelligent closed-circuit systems.

British transportation officials announced this week that they'll be testing the equipment, but New York City has already committed to installing 1,000. When officials announced plans for the smart surveillance in the summer, experts predicted other cities would follow suit.

MTA spokeswoman Mercedes Padilla said in an interview Thursday that the installation is underway in New York City and is scheduled for completion next year. The cameras are being installed in the subway system, around metro-area bridges and tunnels and along some commuter lines extending to the city's suburbs.

The technology, provided by Lockheed Martin Corp., is part of a $212 million three-year security overhaul contract authorized by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The company also plans to develop radio communications that would allow transit police to communicate with other law enforcement.

The MTA and the London Tube have used thousands of closed-circuit camera systems for years -- but not with smart video technology. The smart cameras are designed to detect and follow movement and spot suspicious circumstances, like unattended bags or attempts at security breaches. Once unusual activity has been detected, the system sends an alert.

The system will include access control, 3,000 motion detectors and links to mobile command units. It will include command, communications and control centers that help dispatchers allocate resources where needed and provide nearly real-time analytical tools. It will be configured in modules that allow expansion and modifications to broaden the boundaries of surveillance and take advantage of new technologies, according to the MTA.

Law enforcement leaders have long worried about terrorists attempting to attack mass transit. Those fears were heightened when terrorists attacked the London Tube twice in July. British authorities had to wade through thousands of hours of closed-circuit television footage in order to locate images of the bombers.

New York City began planning the security system about a year before the bombings.

Several companies are working under Lockheed to engineer the project, create the software and construct the system. They include: SYSTRA Engineering, Intergraph Corp., Cubic Corp., Lenel Systems International, Arinc and Slattery Skanska.

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