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Monday
Oct192009

Underground Trolley Cameras Coming to Beantown, SweeperCams In Nation's Capital


Some interesting municipal surveillance initiatives over on the East Coast caught my eye recently:

First off, saw a Boston Globe article that the MBTA will begin testing cameras on the underground trolleys as part of a pilot program funded by DHS.

This is an ongoing effort that has already seen success. Three hundred buses and most of the T-subway stations are already equipped with cameras, and transit police have used video in almost 500 investigations, more than 240 of which have resulted in charges. This new program only will enhance the system and add more high-resolution cameras to improve video quality. (These cameras are facial recognition software-friendly and may be used to track people as well).

The video will be streamed in real-time to the Transit Police's operation control center in downtown Boston. According to the article:
"Our hope is that the cameras will be able to be viewed in a police cruiser, so that an officer responding to a call will have real-time viewing of what is happening on the scene," MacMillan said.
While station footage will be stored for almost a month, surveillance video from buses will only be kept for 72 hours. Not sure it's an issue with storage capacity due to high video quality, but a three-day limit severely restricts the video from being used in ongoing investigations, many of which last long past that time frame. However, this is a great effort on the part of the MBTA to take a proactive approach to increase transit security and identify repeat offenders.

Also interesting, I caught an article about D.C.'s Sweepercam implementation, a ticketing camera system installed on the city’s street sweepers to fine cars parked in designated-cleaning areas. The cameras are equipped with license plate recognition software so, should a car be parked in a designated spot, the cameras will note the plate number and the system will send the owners a ticket in the mail.

The system has already had a few hiccups and angered some folks with malfunctioning equipment and/or human error. Many operators have forgotten to turn off the cameras in places not slated for cleaning and thus, photographed legally-parked cars. In an email, DPW spokesperson Nancee Lyons responded to the mishaps:
“The camera may have captured the wrong vehicle, a duplicate ticket may have been issued, the camera may have been triggered accidentally and a ticket may have been issued during a day and hours when there was no street sweeping..."
With possible plans to extend parking meter hours to raise an estimated $9 million in extra funds for the transit system, I'm surprised San Francisco has not picked up on this one yet. DC has already dispensed 22,000 tickets from Sweepercam thus far -- that's good chunk of change that more than covers the investment.

Reader Comments (1)

Good share, great article, very usefull for us…thanks.

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBatman Lot

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