Thanks to a new Homeland Security grant, public buses in Boston are receiving a groundbreaking technological makeover, one of which has never been implemented in any public transportation setting.
According to CBS Boston, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has been awarded $7 million to outfit city busses with new “360-degree lenses embedded in the ceilings and walls,” with some buses equipped with flat screen TV’s for passengers to see the cameras’ feeds. There will even be cameras on the exterior of the buses, however, none of the cameras will be recording any audio.
Although equipping buses with video cameras is not a new idea, the new system in Boston is revolutionary in its streaming capabilities: All the bus cameras will be live-streaming directly to the downtown dispatch Transit Police headquarters, which will allow police to monitor hundreds of buses in real-time. And that’s not all — 80 transit police cruisers are scheduled to be installed with touch screens for officers to look into any bus of their choosing.
“It is pretty amazing. You pull up the camera system, then you already have a description of the suspect. He could be looking at the cameras as you are following the bus,” MBTA Transit Police Officer Luke Sayers said.
As of now, 10 buses are currently outfitted with the new cameras, with 225 scheduled to be outfitted by this coming summer 2014. And although privacy is always an issue with the public when it comes to new surveillance technologies, in this case, it was actually the public that were demanding the cameras. Which makes sense, seeing as Boston is the most recent U.S. city to unfortunately be exposed to the threat of terrorism, following last years Boston Marathon bombing.
“The riders of the MBTA have been asking for cameras for a long time and we think that this will give them confidence that we are doing everything possible to protect them,” said Deputy Superintendent of the MBTA Transit Police Joe O’Connor.
The MBTA says this technology will soon cover more than 70% of bus routes throughout the city.