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Big Brother is watching: New York to fight terrorism with a facial recognition system

Terrorists may want to think twice before they try to target New York with a weapon of mass destruction. The recently announced New York Crossings Project aims to discourage terrorism with the installation of cutting-edge facial recognition technology in bridges and tunnels across the state.

In developing this plan, New York state official decided to beef up the security at each crossing and sensitive point at the major airports, bridges, tunnels, and transportation hubs across the state. The enhanced security includes an advanced camera and sensor system designed for license plate scanning and facial recognition. The state plans to deploy the same technology at all these locations, creating a state-wide one-system plan for anti-terrorism management.

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Besides cameras and sensors, the state also will assign additional anti-terrorism teams to both patrol at the crossing and to facilitate the sharing of information across government agencies. Up to 525 Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA) officers, 150 State Police and 150 National Guardsmen will be involved in this reinforcement. When an emergency occurs, special barricade trucks will be available at both ends of each crossing.

The facial recognition technology is part of a larger initiative to improve New York’s bridges and tunnels. The New York Crossings Project aims to revolutionize the transportation infrastructure in New York with cutting-edge automatic tolling, and to speed up commutes, install energy efficient LED lighting, and improve protection against floods and earthquakes.

This isn’t the first time New York has dabbled with facial recognition on a wide-scale basis. The DMV also added a facial recognition feature to its licensing system that maps 128 points on a person’s face. These points are matched to photos in a database and are further being used to combat identity theft. In less than a year of operation, the system has already led to 100 arrests and to closing 900 open cases.