NYC is watching you, and your car. As we’ve blogged about before, NYC has an extensive network of surveillance cameras, sensors, license plate readers and other data sources to track people and vehicles.
Called the Domain Awareness System, this network is a joint collaboration between the NYPD and Microsoft Corp. The New York Daily News reports the project costs $30 – $40 million to develop and was initiated by the NYPD.
Once active, the NYC Domain Awareness System will be able to do things like:
- see if someone leaves a suspicious package,
- Identify radioactive materials (and figure out if it’s a bad material or a natural substance),
- Track vehicles over multiple days (to catch car thieves, etc), and
- Match license plate numbers against a watch list to notify NYPD if the vehicle is connected with a crime report, arrest, or warrant.
In exchange for working with Microsoft to build the system, the NYPD expects to earn 40% of the profits whenever Microsoft sells the system to other cities and countries.
Something to Think About: This means that the NYPD can identify your vehicle from your license plate and probably your E-ZPass tag. I know the data is being used to protect us, but it does feel a bit invasive into our privacy.
In July 2012, we reported that Phase I of Midtown in Motion system included 100 microwave sensors, 32 traffic video cameras and E-ZPass readers at 23 intersections to measure traffic speeds covering a 110-block area from 2nd – 6th Aves & 42nd – 57th Sts to fix NYC traffic. Phase I resulted in an overall 10% improvement in travel times on all the Aves (based on E-ZPass readers and taxi GPS data).
Phase II expanded the Midtown in Motion area from 1st – 9th Aves and 42nd – 57th Sts. Midtown in Motion uses all these sensors, NYC traffic cameras and E-ZPass reader data to adjust Midtown traffic signal patterns, unplug bottlenecks and smooth the flow of traffic.
The Phase II area will now cover 270 square blocks and will include an additional 110 microwave sensors, 24 traffic video cameras, and 36 E-ZPass readers. It will be fully operational this September.
Phase I was funded by a $1.2 million grant from the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration. Phase II’s expansion costs $2.9 million, with $580,000 of that contributed by the City, and the remainder by New York State.