Official: Smart cameras, armed guards to protect 9/11 site
By AMY WESTFELDT
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK- Some day, at the new and rebuilt World Trade Center site, visitors might submit to an iris scan or an analysis of their thumb print to get into buildings, while smart cameras try to match their faces to a photo database of known terrorists. Well-paid, armed guards would be on patrol while sensors test the air for lethal gases.
Preliminary details of a plan to make the redeveloped 16-acre (6.4-hectare) site as terrorism-proof as possible were provided to The Associated Press this week by former FBI agent James Kallstrom, New York Governor George Pataki's senior counterterrorism adviser. Kallstrom and city and federal officials are aiming for a standard of security that does not yet exist in public spaces around the nation.
"This'll be reflective of the times we live in," said Kallstrom. "The consequences of attacking here could have more significance to the terrorists. It has a lot of symbolism. It's going to be extremely well protected."
The plan is taking shape while construction is set to begin this spring on a memorial to the 2001 terrorist attacks and the Freedom Tower, a skyscraper that some say is having trouble attracting tenants because of security concerns. A transit hub, performing arts center and more office towers are also planned.
The security officials _ working with a high-tech firm that provided security at the Athens and Salt Lake City Olympics _ are also trying to avoid embarrassing public disputes. Last spring, architects working for the developer were forced to redesign the Freedom Tower after the police department publicly aired concerns that the building might not withstand a truck bomb.
Kallstrom, who Pataki assigned to oversee a ground zero security plan amid the controversy, said law enforcement officials were now cooperating.
Some of the technology under discussion for the site is still emerging, Kallstrom said, like the surveillance cameras that would load software with pictures of suspected criminals or dangerous weapons and match them against pictures of strangers.
Sensors to test for possible bioterrorism could be used both inside buildings and in open spaces like the memorial plaza.
Associated Press writer Tom Hays contributed to this report.