Refreshed budget leads to security camera updates on campus

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DePauw University has begun to replace security cameras around campus
REBECA BAGDOCIMO / THE DEPAUW

Student requests for a safer campus have been put into action by President Brian Casey, DePauw Public Safety and Information Services.

The security camera system on campus is poised for an update after a renewed allocation of funding has been provided to Public Safety and Information Services. This influx in dollars results from the events in recent weeks on DePauw’s campus.

“I believe that the additional allocation was directly associated with the request of students from the forum after the demonstrators were here on Sept. 23,” said Angela Nally, director of Public Safety. “President Casey made a commitment and he followed through.”

Updates to the camera system were slated to happen gradually over the next few years. Last year the back end of the system, that manages the recording and distribution that gathers all the feeds to display them on screens in Public Safety, was updated. The new funding will expedite the already started process.

“We’ve actually done quite a bit of work at the direction of Public Safety in the last couple of years and sort of doing some preparation was part of our ongoing strategy to do ongoing improvements,” Chief Information Officer Carol Smith said. “This refreshed allocation is going to accelerate some of the work we planned to do already.”

Public Safety is working with Information Services as well as outside vendors to work quickly, but not hastily in moving forward in creating a system with the updates afforded by the generous allocation.

“Although exact dollars will depend on bids received for replacement cameras and an extension of areas with camera surveillance, we estimate a spend of $200,000 toward the project and have allocated these dollars from our capital renewal and replacement budget,” wrote Vice President for Finance and Administration Brad Kelsheimer in an email last Monday.

The camera update will occur in phases. The first will involve examining the existing cameras, particularly the older ones. These are being checked to ensure they are functional, and if they are outdated or could be better, that they be replaced.

“We’ll do this process where we make a plan and then we’ll add cameras and make those decisions after that,” said Nally.

Currently there are outdoor cameras that look at parking lots and intersections. Interior cameras are present in Lilly, the GCPA and Peeler that have been installed as result of renovations or new builds. There are also cameras overlooking the property out on the athletic campus.

“One of the things we want to make sure is very clear, that even if you spent millions on a camera system there’s something ultimately that will happen and there will not be a camera looking at it,” said Nally

“This is not Las Vegas,” she added.

However, Public Safety is intentional about thinking through how a person could ingress or egress into a building, out of a building, onto campus or off of campus.  

Along with the update and addition of cameras, discussions will occur to determine what the university’s security system is going to look like.

“[Public Safety and Information Services are] going to get some key people around the table and have a discussion and set some standards for what our security system will look like,” said Nally.

The camera security system updates will continue to be necessary, even after the current one is completed.

“It’s an ongoing process," said Nally. "It’s technology and technology evolves and changes and additional technology becomes available, so this is something that we have been working on for some time.”

The plans for the entirety of the update are not finalized, and as a result Public Safety and Information Services value student input in the process.

“We are also open to hearing student’s perspective in terms of other technology or initiatives that they feel would improve how they feel safe on campus,” Nally said.