Added Subway Surveillance on Tap for NYC's MTA

The New York City Transit Authority is poised to expand its closed-circuit television-monitoring system to 32 more subway stations, according to an agency document.

"This is not a 'Big Brother' thing; this is not about keeping tabs on our riders," said a TA spokesman who asked not to be identified. "It is about providing police and other investigative bodies information."

Next week, the MTA board will vote on a $15-million contract with Tap Electrical Contracting to install the cameras. The cameras will be "capable of visually monitoring and recording passengers entering and exiting" the unspecified stations, the document said. Cameras may also be placed near turnstiles.

The TA is already scheduled to finish installing similar cameras in 78 stations by the end of the year. It has set aside money for 140 stations, or about 30 percent of the system's 468 stations, but could expand it if more funds become available.

Neither law enforcement nor transit personnel will monitor the cameras. Instead, images will be stored for 45 days, then deleted if they are not needed, the TA spokesman said. They will only be stored longer if they relate to a criminal prosecution or litigation of a legal claim.

Police in London used similar images to identify the bombers from the July 2005 attacks there.

Under current plans the cameras are "stand alone" and not linked to any network, but they could eventually be connected to the main subway command center.

They could also possibly be linked one day to the separate Lockheed Martin $290 million security project that will install more than 1,000 cameras - some with artificial intelligence capabilities - in the subway system.