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sarah d_scalet
Senior Editor

Quick and Dirty: Deploying intelligent video surveillance

Sep 01, 20052 mins
Critical InfrastructureDLP SoftwareIT Leadership

New Jersey Transit's philosophy in deploying intelligent video surveillance has been reality first, policies second

New Jersey Transit’s philosophy in deploying intelligent video surveillance has been reality first, policies second

New Jersey Transit Police Chief Joseph Bober and CTO Michael Slack didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about the ROI of a particular camera. Starting several years ago with New York’s Port Authority bus terminal, they instead began hooking up relatively simple cameras to the existing wide area network, and giving people in different parts of the organization access to that video feed.

“Build it, and they will come,” Slack says. “I mean, really. Except for the people who have the Big Brother is watching’ mentality, this is the hottest-selling technology that we have had since we put PCs on everybody’s desktops.”

What the approach also means, however, is that policies and procedures are still in progress. Right now, Transit has policies around how other transportation authorities such as Amtrak can access the video, and the IT department has logs of who has accessed what. But Transit is still working on defining policies for employee usage, which will be presented to employees once formal training is provided.

The IT department is also in the midst of a software upgrade that for the first time will allow system administrators to set up user rights and privileges. That way, certain users could be given access only to live video, or only to archived video at a particular station. This will help control network traffic as well as reduce liability issues that could arise from an employee misusing video feed of, say, a celebrity sighting or an accident.

As long as the public knows about the surveillance and the video is used only for legitimate business, attorney Ann Kiernan doesn’t think that the initial lack of policies raises too much of a concern. “It sounds like more of a management issue in New Jersey Transit than a real privacy issue for the public,” says Kiernan, a solo practitioner in New Brunswick, N.J., who is involved with Fair Measures, a group of attorneys who train executives and managers about how to prevent employee lawsuits. “The public knows that they could be on a security camera.”