Friday, July 29, 2011

Ground Zero's 'Ring of Steel' Security System

Daily Mail: Details emerged today of the extraordinary lengths the NYPD is going to as they attempt to make lower Manhattan the safest business district in the world and protect it from a dirty bomb threat.

New York City police are stepping up protection against the threat of a radioactive attack on the area as part of a $200 million security upgrade. A command centre will monitor 2,000 mobile radiation detectors carried by officers each day around the city, which will send a wireless, real-time alert if there's a reading signaling a dirty bomb threat. The system already is being tested under the watch of federal authorities in hopes it can be perfected and used elsewhere.

‘This is the first and only place you'll see it,’ an NYPD counterterrorism official said. ‘It's been tested in the field. It works, and we're hoping to get (the wireless detectors) deployed in a few months.’

A dirty bomb has never been discovered in a U.S. terror plot, but they are a serious threat because they are easy to build and foreign terrorists are known to want to use them against U.S. cities. The radiation detection system is part of a $200million security initiative in lower Manhattan. It has been inspired by the so-called ‘ring of steel’ encircling the London business district in Britain.

But this is certainly broader in scope and sophistication

It will rely largely on 3,000 closed-circuit security cameras carpeting the roughly 1.7 square miles south of Canal Street, the subway system and parts of midtown Manhattan. So far, about 1,800 cameras are up and running, with the rest expected to come on line by the end of the year. Only 500 cameras were online at this time last year, reported the New York Post.

Police began monitoring live feeds in 2008 from the cameras at a high-tech command centre in lower Manhattan - home to Wall Street, the new development at Ground Zero and other important sites.

‘We're talking about some of the most significant targets anywhere in the world,’ Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

The NYPD is using a single, high-bandwidth fibre-optic network to connect all its cameras to a central computer system. It's also pioneering ‘video analytic’ computer software designed to detect threats, like unattended bags, and retrieve stored images based on descriptions of terror or other criminal suspects.

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