Civil Liberties

NYPD, Other Departments Track Car Movements

They know where you've been


A building at 55 Broadway, in lower Manhattan, is home to the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center, the locus of the New York Police Department's massive intelligence-gathering activities. According to a 2011 estimate, the facility integrates not only some 1,000 NYPD cameras located in lower Manhattan and some 700 cameras in midtown, but an additional 2,000 private surveillance cameras owned by Wall Street firms. These cameras are principally focused on capturing license plate data. The center cost an estimated $150 million to set up.

While Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly endlessly tout the value of Manhattan's "ring of steel," modeled after the security infrastructure of London's financial district, they reveal little as to its role tracking car traffic in the city.  Both back the department's Domain Awareness System (DAS), which can track individuals or incidents (e.g., a suspicious package) through live video feeds from some 3,000 CCTV cameras, 2,600 radiation substances detectors, check license plate numbers, pull up crime reports and cross-check all information against criminal and terrorist databases.