The MBTA is using a $7 million federal grant to supply its bus fleet with cutting edge video surveillance. PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO
By the time summer roles around, T passengers may feel a few extra high-definition eyes on them while riding the transit system's buses.
Thanks to a $7 million federal grant from the Department of Homeland Security, more than 200 cutting edge, 360-degree lens surveillance cameras will be installed throughout the T's bus system along with video monitors that let passengers see what's being recorded.
The digital video will be fed in real time to Transit Police headquarters and cruisers, as well as the T's bus control center.
T officials hope the technology will act not only as a deterrent to would-be criminals, but will provide clear, real-time information during suspected criminal or terrorism activity.
"If [transit police] get a report of something, whether it's a covert button from an employee, or a 911 call, they will have a better idea of what they're walking into," said Randy Clarke, Randy Clarke, senior director of security and emergency management for the MBTA.
"It's really cutting edge technology. As far as we're aware, we're the only public transit agency in the nation using it," Clarke said.
The cameras will be embedded in the ceilings and walls of the buses, as well as their exteriors in order to provide transit police with better situational awareness.
The MBTA also hopes the video technology will help aid investigations in the wake of bus accidents, and in instances where criminals escape before police arrive.
"If you look at the Boston bombing, for instance, video and images helped investigators track down the suspects," said Clarke
Ten buses have already been equipped with the technology, and 225 more are expected in coming months.