Since time machines are still not a thing, there’s a new archive that lets you slip into the past to review what was happening at different streets and intersections throughout New York City over the course of a given day.
The tool, which records stills from traffic camera footage, is meant to be used by people keeping tabs on police abusing their power, as many cities across the US pressure their local and state officials for police reform, the tool’s creator, Aakash Patel, told Time Out New York. Patel imagines the web archive as a resource for activists who are looking for evidence to show an officer was performing unprofessional behavior while on duty. However, the tool also highlights how pervasive surveillance footage is, and it’s easy to imagine how the archived traffic camera footage could potentially be misused by some.
The web archive consists of a Google Drive folder organized into the year, month, and day when the media files were taken. It features up-to-date traffic feeds from Brooklyn and Manhattan and is updated hourly, with new image stills provided an hour after they were initially captured on traffic cameras. The footage only goes back to June 6th.
The camera stills are pulled straight from New York City’s Department of Transportation traffic cameras. The DOT’s site only provides video in real time, so this web archive is useful for looking at older footage. Patel hopes to expand the archives to all of New York City.