THE MAGAZINE

Security's Way of Wisdom

By Ann Longmore-Etheridge

DePaul eventually selected integrator Pace Systems, Inc., of Naperville, Illinois, to begin the installation in May 2008. While students were home for the summer, Pace installed 225 Axis Communications cameras, some of which were pan-tilt-zoom.

In addition to the cameras, Pace installed a video management system from Milestone Systems and five centralized servers that replaced the need for individual DVRs at each residence building. The system’s servers are kept in a locked data closet at the campus’s security dispatch center.

The work continued through the end of August. As predicted, says Wachowski, progress was slowed by the need to drill through tough concrete walls and delicate old brick, as well as by having to solve camera placement and mounting issues on the townhouses.

After the installation came the tweaking. The cameras are motion triggered and use video analytics. The system allows operators to use the software to draw zones to designate where movement should be detected. These parameters were tested to make sure the desired results were obtained.

DePaul was able to take advantage of Power over Ethernet, which provides electricity to the network cameras via the same cable used for the network connection instead of via power outlets. Doing so reduced costs further and helped to simplify implementation.

The Milestone software they use is Windows-based and can be remotely viewed from any PC. It also gives users the option of viewing feeds over wireless handheld devices such as BlackBerries, which Wachowski hopes to take advantage of in the future. Wachowski, his assistant director, and the director and assistant director of campus housing are the only individuals who can log on to view the stored digital footage.

The management system allows data to be searched by time, date, and location. It also allows for clips to be burned to disk and e-mailed to anyone with any media player. The interface was so simple that staff with access rights figured out how to use it before Milestone trained them, Wachowski states.

As a way of accommodating privacy concerns, the university decided that cameras would not be monitored live. Students were sent letters explaining what the new camera system was meant for, what it did and did not do, and who had access to the footage. Signage was also put up at monitored locations advertising the presence of the cameras. Wachowski says that he has received no complaints from students but has heard from many who think it is a good idea.

Since the cameras began recording last September, says Wachowski, the recorded footage has helped security personnel solve a number of crime and vandalism incidents.

In the near future, DePaul plans to replace the remaining analog cameras on campus with digital IP-based cameras and install the system on the Loop campus residences. The university may also soon implement wireless systems so that campus patrol cars, for example, can immediately access footage related to incidents.

The systems have performed well, and the university is looking to expand it to other nonresidential areas of the campus, such as academic buildings.


(For more information: Pace Systems, Inc., e-mail: info@pace-systems.com, Web: www.pace-systems.com; Milestone Systems, Inc., e-mail: info@milestonesystems.com, Web: www.milestonesystems.com; Axis Communications, Inc., Web: www.axis.com.)

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