Data sharing, uninterrupted recording at UCLA
Apr 1, 2001 12:00 PM
UCLA largely uses surveillance cameras in buildings' common areas where the public does not have an expectation of privacy.
At some educational institutions, CCTV cameras and recording equipment are applied uniformly across the campus, with application-related decisions made at the highest administrative levels.
Things are different at the University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) where department personnel are responsible for identifying their surveillance needs, and then communicating these needs to Reuben Carver, UCLA's campus alarm coordinator.
Carver and John Adams of UCLA's support operations division have a unique opportunity to make recommendations regarding technology for its "customer" departments. "We are one university, but each department here is considered a separate business partner," Adams says. "Ultimately, we are looking to create multiple business partners who will share networked technologies. Our job is to employ video surveillance that's based on our customers' needs, without interfering with students' educational experience." In a nutshell: Surveillance technology that conveys a Big Brother message is not welcome.
As the middlemen between UCLA's security services and departments, Adams and Carver recently selected digital recording equipment from Vicon Industries, Hauppauge, N.Y., to simplify recording tasks for user departments, while maintaining the campus' low-profile security presence.
The Vicon Kollector product family includes multi-channel digital recording devices that operate independently or as components of a networked system made up of multiple recorders and PC-based review/control stations. The units allow simultaneous recording and playback of up to 16 digital video channels. Hard disk is the recorders' primary video storage medium. The campus' parking services building uses three networked Kollector 4050s. Authorized personnel with network access can view camera activity from their office desks.
"Networked recorders give us the ability to allow more people to watch the activity in the buildings," Carver says.
UCLA also enjoys ease of playback ¡ª Carver can key-in an exact time and date to view a desired video.
"Digital also removes the human factor of forgetfulness," Carver says. "If someone forgets to change a VCR tape, that recorder will eventually stop recording. These units are recording continuously. When the disk is full, it starts rewriting over the oldest data. Plus, we don't lose recording time while we're reviewing activity that was already captured."
UCLA largely uses surveillance cameras in buildings' common areas where the public does not have an expectation of privacy. Lighting quality in these locations is not always optimal, but the recorders help compensate for shortcomings.
"We can adjust brightness and other qualities so we view a better picture when we're in playback mode," says Carver.
UCLA also depends on the digital recorders for evidence in the event of a problem. The recorders are court-certified for presentation due to their encryption capabilities, which can be useful to a large public university.
"The technology encrypts individual frames so that digital alteration is almost impossible. If we go to court, the defense cannot say that we have altered an image," Adams says.
"Overall, we want to integrate areas virtually to add to our eyes-and-ears campus presence to reduce crime," Adams says. "We like what we're seeing with our digital recorders, and we're hoping to stay on the cutting edge."
A UCLA computer lab under construction will use a Kollector Model 4000 digital recorder.