New security cameras to keep eye on Muni buses
With a $6 million federal Homeland Security grant, hundreds of San Francisco?s Muni buses will soon have high-tech video surveillance cameras the transit agency can survey in real-time.
While the transit system uses a surveillance system now, it is more than 10 years old, requires much upkeep, and footage is stored on tapes within each vehicle that must be brought to an office and viewed.
The grant will pay for the installation of video surveillance systems on 358 Muni buses, according to city documents. The project also includes installation of wireless networks, computers and servers at three bus yards ?that will enable SFMTA personnel to view, download and store the captured video images wirelessly and view them in real-time or through the Internet.?
?Having a more reliable camera system will help us improve safety, reduce and more effectively manage claims and prosecute crimes,? said Kristen Holland, spokeswoman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees Muni. ?Surveillance footage has and will continue to be one of the key elements of our efforts to reduce vandalism and all crimes on Muni.?
According to city documents, ?the new system will provide real-time viewing of images, inside and outside the bus, by law enforcement officers, emergency responders and other authorized personnel on a real-time basis from a distance of about 500 yards in case the bus is hijacked and used for terrorism activities.?
These new high-tech cameras will be the latest addition to live-recording technology around The City. Taxi cabs have installed new recording devices capturing activity inside and outside the vehicle. In 2005, The City began installing police surveillance cameras, and 71 cameras now monitor 24 locations.
There have been heated debates about allowing law enforcement to monitor these cameras in real time, but opposition has fought the idea.
Staff attorney Linda Lye with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California said the proposal raises a number of questions.
?The rights of privacy mean the government doesn?t get a blank check,? she said. ?What is being done with the information, how long is it being retained and how is it being disseminated??
Those details have yet to be hashed out by the agency.
?We will have to evaluate how any new features of the system will be integrated into our operations,? Holland said. ?However, [real-time viewing] is not a capability that we envision using on a full-time basis.?
Really, they used the terrorism excuse for wanting cameras on buses? I am now covinced that the group running the DHS are the most paranoid scare mongers ever.