Bright Ideas for Picture Perfect Video
IP Cameras, Convention Domes and High-Speed PTZs Most Popular on Campuses
Overall, three types of cameras are emerging as top choices in campus settings:
- IP cameras, which are being deployed with growing frequency and can include the subset of megapixel cameras
- Conventional dome cameras and fixed mini-domes, which are vandal-resistant and often used in hallways and stairwells
- High-speed, pan-tilt-zoom cameras that can hone in on details with 36x zoom levels
Dome cameras with pan-tilt-zoom capabilities, for example, are a great choice for exterior use, or to provide coverage of large areas, such as parking lots. Many can withstand extreme temperature changes and work well in sunny conditions, as well as in rain and snow.
Alternatively, fixed mini-dome cameras are a natural choice that blend well in interior applications and can be mounted high in a hallway or stairwell, out of reach of vandals.
Low-Light Cameras Keep Close Eye on Franklin & Marshall College
Picturesque by day, the quaint tree-lined streets surrounding Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., became a darkened backdrop to a rash of vandalism in the fall of 2006, prompting the school to intensify efforts to safeguard its community by placing an eye on crime. The student government insisted the best way to enhance safety a
nd security would be through the widespread installation of video surveillance cameras to monitor potential criminal activity.
Part and parcel to the success of the college’s surveillance system was the particular concern involving lighting and camera placement. These and other factors were weighed by the college in collaboration with the adjacent community to address technical requirements while striking a balance with aesthetic concerns.
Franklin & Marshall turned to integrator Tri-M Group based in Kennett Square, Pa., to design and install the new surveillance system. To date, the group has successfully installed 23 Bosch AutoDome modular cameras around the college’s perimeter in predominantly student traffic areas, parking lots, and select off-campus sites to improve visibility and monitoring. Each specific site location was analyzed to best assess its lighting needs, using special cameras for low-light situations when needed.
“We assess each location, and look at what we want to achieve for each site. An interior campus location may have different requirements from the outlying perimeter of the campus,” says Maureen Kelly, director of Franklin & Marshall’s department of public safety. “Parking lots happen to be the easiest to light and install cameras, as they have no blockages and the views can be expanded.”
Since aesthetics was another concern of the college, the cameras were encased in special housings to match the decorative streetlight poles and traffic light arms on which they were mounted. This helped the cameras blend in with the street’s décor.
College Establishes Partnerships With Adjacent Community
But before the installation could get underway, the campus had to develop good working relationships with its surrounding community. Often, as in the case of Franklin & Marshall, vandalism knows no boundary. Any public safety threat in college towns is one shared by both the school and the community. It is up to both to craft a technological solution to protect both students and residents.
Presented with a problem, Franklin & Marshall spearheaded a joint task force with the city and the James Street Improvement District. Their goal was to devise ways to make the city streets surrounding the school “safe and clean” while maintaining the trademark open college campus environment. In addition to addressing camera and lighting issues, they also upgraded municipal lighting, trimmed trees, supplemented their efforts with bike patrol ambassadors, and stepped up police patrols to thwart criminal activities.
To Maria Cimilluca, Franklin & Marshall’s director of facilities and operations, successful security solutions to broad-scale community problems hinge on having strong leadership and direction from the top, as well as having supportive, established working relationships at all levels throughout educational and civic organizations. In the case of the college, Cimilluca said she worked cohesively with internal groups such as the school’s information technology (IT) department, and externally with local utility companies.
“Projects move along faster when you are all working toward the same goal and have a spirit of cooperation,” Cimilluca said. “I hope other schools encountering similar problems will draw from our successful experience and find the technical solutions they need by talking to each other and working together.”
The project was so successful, in fact, that an additional four cameras are slated for installation this summer.
“The priority was to make our school environment and community neighborhoods safe for college students and residents alike,” said Kelly. “This has been an incredibly successful initiative because it has buy-in from people at every level, from the students themselves, to the college president, from the next-door neighbors, to the police department. The new system makes people feel safer.”
Cheryl Bard is product marketing manager and Willem Ryan is product marketing manager for Bosch Security Systems Inc. For additional information on Bosch, visit www.boschsecurity.us.
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