BART board passes security upgrade plan after ‘horrific crimes’

Kavya Narendra Babu/File

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The BART board of directors voted at its Thursday meeting to upgrade security after recent violent crimes in BART stations, according to the meeting agenda.

As part of BART’s Safety and Security Action Plan, the board voted to update its 1,500 analog surveillance cameras in stations, parking lots and garages to high-definition digital models. These updates would cost approximately $15 million and take 4 1/2 years to install, according to a press release.

A directive to install platform emergency call boxes was also passed. These would be equipped with intercoms with direct contact to the Berkeley Police Department dispatch and cameras, costing about $5.2 million to install over the next two years.

“The General Manager (Grace Crunican) recognizes that the recent horrific crimes have understandably raised the level of concern for our riders so she directed staff to come up with a detailed, specific action plan to increase safety and security,” said BART spokesperson Jim Allison in an email.

The camera upgrade to BART’s remaining analog models will allow for additional surveillance technology to be implemented into the system. A measure to install physical security information management, or PSIM — a system that can include video analytics to generate automated alerts based on BART police response plans — in the digital cameras was tabled at the meeting for further discussion, according to the press release.

This technology would not be able to collect personal information, have facial recognition or allow BART to track or store cell phone information, according to the release. However, Media Alliance Executive Director Tracy Rosenberg said PSIM has the capability of executing some of these functions, which she said poses “significant privacy concerns.”

“It’s important that BART do a much better job of addressing civil rights and privacy concerns of riders before moving ahead with it,” Rosenberg said.   

Contact Amanda Bradford at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @amandabrad_uc.