Delays Hinder Camera Installation in New York Subways


Aging fiber-optic cable in Brooklyn and Queens is preventing the completion of a planned high-tech system of surveillance cameras meant to safeguard the subway and commuter railroads, according to a newspaper report.

The system, which is expected to cost at least $450 million, is a crucial component of a larger program to thwart terrorist attacks on the region’s transportation network, but it has met repeatedly with technical problems and delays, the New York Times reported.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has authorized the replacement of 84,000 feet of old fiber-optic cable, which was installed in the late 1980s. The replacement will cost $5 million and is being done as part of a separate project to build out the subway’s data network.

According to a board document, tests on the cable showed that it had “many broken fibers unsuitable to carry the high bandwidth required” to transmit large amounts of data, which hindered the surveillance camera project, the newspaper reported. The document did not say how long it would take to replace the cable.

Plans for the surveillance system were announced in August 2005, when officials said that they expected to have it up and running in three years. The system, which is being built by the defense contractor Lockheed Martin, is to include at least 1,000 surveillance cameras and 3,000 motion sensors, mostly concentrated at major travel hubs and high-volume stations, like Grand Central Terminal, as well as in tunnels and other areas.

It is also supposed to combine several advanced technologies and packages of software that could integrate information collected across the region’s vast transportation network.

Officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the nature of the security measures told the newspaper that the original schedule was far too ambitious and could not have been completed in three years. They estimate it could take two or three more years to complete, while some aspects of the system could be in operation sooner.

One of the officials said systems problems involved the cameras’ ability to spot an unattended bag or briefcase left on a train platform or other busy area and then alert law enforcement to the possible hazard, the newspaper reported.

The replacement cable is being installed as part of a $200 million project that is separate from the security program, to create an up-to-date fiber-optic network throughout the subway system.

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