The New York Times reports that “a network of private and public surveillance cameras, license plate readers and weapons sensors already established in Lower Manhattan as an electronic bulwark against terrorist attacks will soon expand to a large patch of Midtown Manhattan.” The city will use $24 million in federal Homeland Security grants to help pay for the system.
Like the system downtown, the expanded surveillance network would feed streams of data for analysis to a coordination center at 55 Broadway. [NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg], who made the announcement at the center with [Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly], said work on the Midtown system would begin next year and be completed in 2011.
A few years ago, Bloomberg announced the “Lower Manhattan Security Initiative.” The $90-million plan sought to enhance the surveillance of New York City’s downtown streets by installing another 3,000 cameras (on top of the 4,400 already there) and license-plate scanners to track the thousands of drivers who enter the area daily.
US cities are increasingly using camera surveillance systems, though their security benefits are questionable. I have often spoken about the fact that CCTV systems are neither effective nor cost-effective. The costs of camera surveillance systems, in terms of civil liberties, are evident. However, there is also a financial cost. Numerous studies (some conducted by US and UK law enforcement agencies) have shown that CCTV systems have little effect on crime rates.