High-profile incidents of violence at colleges and universities nationwide are spurring preventive measures on other campuses, including the installation of IP security cameras.
Privacy advocates' concerns notwithstanding, many campus security administrators and IT managers say the cameras do much to prevent crimes. Smaller institutions, especially, increasingly rely on cameras to fill the surveillance void left by budget shortfalls or an inability to hire additional security officers.
"Much of this type of technology serves as a force multiplier," says Steven Healy, a managing partner for the Margolis Healy consulting firm. "It basically allows security to have a virtual presence without having to have 100 people patrolling the campus at any given time."
IP cameras such as Axis Communications M3014 Fixed Dome Network Camera or Logitech Alert 750-series cameras typically offer greater image resolution than analog surveillance cameras. IP cameras also are becoming smarter and enabling greater flexibility and scalability, in some cases even leveraging cloud storage options or allowing mobile control.
Creating Realistic Safety Plans
Given those increased capabilities, IT teams looking to install new network camera systems must ensure adequate bandwidth is available, in addition to storage capacity.
Institutions don't necessarily need to undergo a wholesale replacement of all analog cameras when the time comes for an upgrade. Analog cameras can be incorporated into an IP network through the use of video encoders — Axis, Panasonic and Grandstream all offer a wide variety of models — which digitize analog camera data and enable it to be viewed alongside IP network images. Converged video management systems also can be deployed on campuses where several legacy analog systems must remain in place.
At Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La., campus security officials chose to upgrade from analog to IP cameras first where their need proved greatest.
"We wanted to see if we were really getting the bang for our buck and give our staff a chance to adjust, and our IT people time, to make sure they could maintain and troubleshoot the systems," says Craig Jaccuzzo, chief of university police.
Above all, security experts advise campus administrators that they must understand just what it is that they're trying to protect. A top-of-the-line alternative isn't always the best fit when it comes to meeting that primary need. Given all of the available storage and management options, a modern IP security network can be designed for every budget, IMS Research's Alastair Hayfield says.
"The DVR/analog camera combination is still more cost-effective for consumers with a low camera count than a full IP system," Hayfield says. "That said, falling IP camera prices might help to drive the increased adoption of IP in this particular segment."
"For many years, universities have been employing comprehensive video surveillance to enhance campus security, and that technology has done much to reduce crime, foster a climate of safety, and even save lives."
— Gary A. Olson, President, Daemen College, Amherst, N.Y.
"If there's someone wandering inside a building, we can go to the live video and get a description, know whether that person has a weapon and exactly where he is inside the building. That information will help us make the right call about how to respond as effectively and safely as possible."
— Bob Driskill, Director of Campus Safety, Lynchburg College, Lynchburg, Va.
"Where appropriate, we support live monitoring. But we're very concerned about privacy issues, and we didn't want our system to be intrusive or perceived as intrusive."
— Michael Corn, Chief Privacy and Security Officer, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign