When it came time to identify a suspect in Saturday night's explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, investigators turned to several of the 8,000 cameras that constantly record what's happening across New York City.
After the Sept. 11 attacks, surveillance cameras were added in lower Manhattan, inspired by the "Ring of Steel" in London's financial district, developed in the 1990s. Over time, the security initiative has grown to include more than 8,000 cameras across several neighborhoods, focusing on streets, subways, train and bus stations, tunnels, and bridges. "That's the world we're living in now," New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill said during a press conference Monday. "Any street, any incident in New York City you get to — most of the time — that gets captured on video surveillance." It's possible new technology could be added soon; former New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton said Monday the NYPD is looking at "street light technology, where you could put literally in every street light a camera system."
To glean information from the cameras, the feeds are all sent to the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center and monitored by officers. They aren't just focusing on the cameras, NBC News reports — the officers are also keeping an eye on biological, chemical, and radiation sensors, as well as sensors that are able to detect gunfire. All of the data from the cameras and detectors is put into the map-based Domain Awareness System, launched in 2012 to analyze the information and give law enforcement an overview of potential threats. Officers spotted Ahmad Khan Rahami on several cameras Saturday, including one near 23rd Street, where a bomb exploded, and using that image, license plate readers at an undisclosed location, and a fingerprint on an explosive device, investigators named Rahami a suspect. After a shootout with officers, Rahami was apprehended on Monday morning in New Jersey.