Inside the NYPD?s High-Tech Surveillance Strategy

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NBC Today Show
Matt Lauer/Jeff Rossen
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Video News Report
NBCUniversal Media, LLC.
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As the nation reels from the April 15th, 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, police are beginning to make use of cutting-edge technology that could help officers spot a bomb before it goes off. This story looks at some of the smart technology used by the New York City Police Department.



"Inside the NYPD?s High-Tech Surveillance Strategy." Jeff Rossen, correspondent. NBC Today Show. NBCUniversal Media. 23 Apr. 2013. NBC Learn. Web. 8 September 2018.


Rossen, J. (Reporter), & Lauer, M. (Anchor). (2013, April 23). Inside the NYPD?s High-Tech Surveillance Strategy. [Television series episode]. NBC Today Show. Retrieved from


"Inside the NYPD?s High-Tech Surveillance Strategy" NBC Today Show, New York, NY: NBC Universal, 04/23/2013. Accessed Sat Sep 8 2018 from NBC Learn:


Inside the NYPD’s High-Tech Surveillance Strategy

MATT LAUER, anchor:

Back now at 7:42 with a Rossen Reports exclusive in the wake of the Boston bombings. New sophisticated tools being used by police that may help protect us from future attacks. Today National Investigative Correspondent Jeff Rossen is in Boston. He has the details. Jeff, good morning.

JEFF ROSSEN, reporting:

Hey, Matt, good morning to you. It-- it’s really amazing what they can do now. I look forward to showing you some of these demonstrations. Here in Boston as you know, we saw just how important these video surveillance cameras are, after the attacks did not take long to identify the suspects. But what if those cameras were so high tech they could actually pick out a bomb, even hidden on the street, before it goes off. As you’re about to see, the future is now. Watch this man. He drops a bag on the ground, then walks away. What if it was a bomb, could officers spot it? Now the NYPD can, in seconds, using new cutting edge technology.

JESSICA TISCH (NYPD): The system gives the officers an alert. It says it’s an abandoned package at the Chrysler Building.

ROSSEN: And it even gives you an image and circles the package for you.

TISCH: It shows you exactly where the package was left.

ROSSEN: It’s called artificial intelligence, software that turns surveillance cameras into smart cameras, so smart the computer learns what normal behavior looks like on every corner, and can spot abnormalities instantly from abandoned packages to suspicious activity, alerting police in real time. How effective has it been?

RAY KELLY (NYPD Commissioner): Well, we’ve had 16 plots against the city since September 11th and none have succeeded.

ROSSEN: What if the suspects are in a car? The NYPD showed us another hi-tech tool. In this simulation, a vehicle on the police watch list has entered the city. Little did the criminals know, special cameras are tracking them, reading thousands of license plates every second.

TISCH: Our cameras just spotted the vehicle on the West Side Highway, not only do we know where the car is, we get two pictures in real time of that vehicle. In addition, it will show us every place where that license plate has been scanned before in our system going back as long as we have the data.

ROSSEN: These cameras can even pick suspects out of a crowd based on the shirt they’re wearing. Let’s say it’s red. Each of the city’s 4,000 cameras can hone in and pull all the red shirts out.

KELLY: It gives individuals who want to attack and think about attacking pause for thought.

TISCH: Now, other cities are using smart cameras, too. John Frazzini is a former Secret Service agent, now selling smart camera technology to agencies from Houston to San Francisco. While no one knows if it would have prevented the bombings in Boston, officials say this technology is the future. Do you think this can change the face of law enforcement?

JOHN FRAZZINI: This is changing the face of law enforcement. Catching these events before they happen is the name of the game.

ROSSEN: Boston police do not have this technology yet but told us by phone late last night that right now everything is on the table. It is important to note here, Matt, police officials say this technology by no means doesn’t replace police officers on the streets patrolling, they say it is just a tool to help them and if anything else the reason they wanted us to share this with you at home is because they’re hoping it’s a deterrent to terrorists that we will catch you before you can strike.

LAUER: It’s a fascinating stuff. Jeff Rossen in Boston. Jeff, thank you very much.