Continuing its efforts to enhance the security of
students, faculty and staff, the university has installed
on the Homewood campus a state-of-the-art closed-circuit TV
system that alerts operators when it spots suspicious
Using computer-driven cameras, the "smart CCTV" system
quickly recognizes potential problems, from a student who
has fallen and needs assistance to someone trying to break
into a locked building. Real-time images of people who may
be causing problems appear on computer monitors, framed
with a yellow rectangle to alert system operators. The
operators then determine whether to dispatch a nearby
security officer to the scene.
The system can be programmed to look for as many as 16
behavior patterns and to assign them a priority score for
operator follow-up, depending on factors such as the time
of day when the behavior occurs. In addition to its "smart"
capability, the system is monitored like conventional
security camera systems, with operators checking what is
happening in each camera's field of view on a rotating
basis. The feeds from each camera are recorded and, if
needed for later analysis or for use as evidence, can be
Monitored around the clock, the new system acts as a
"force multiplier," allowing the
Security Department to cover more ground than it can
with foot patrols alone, according to Ron Mullen, director
of Homewood security.
"We can't put an officer on every corner," Mullen
said, "but this system allows us to conduct virtual
patrols. The cameras are helping us make the transition to
a more fully integrated 'virtual policing' system that will
take campus security light-years ahead of what many other
colleges across the country are using."
The first cameras have been operational since late
March. There are currently 24 in service, with a total of
32 anticipated to be up and running within a few weeks.
There will be 16 cameras on each side of Charles Street,
mounted on or near residence halls and other
university-owned buildings. Areas covered on the west side
of Charles Street, on the Homewood campus proper, include
the freshman quadrangle, the Eisenhower Library and the
Mattin Center. On the east side of the street, in the
neighborhood adjacent to campus, the coverage area runs
from 30th Street north to University Parkway.
The system was designed and is being operated by iXP
Corp., a New Jersey-based public safety consulting firm
whose client list includes the New York City Police and
Fire departments and the University of Pennsylvania. For
now, the system is set up and monitored inside the
Office of Facilities Management at 3001 Remington Ave.
An adjacent space will be renovated soon to create a
permanent full-scale monitoring center.
The deaths of two students in the past year have
focused the attention of the Homewood campus community as
never before on issues of safety and security. In response,
President William R. Brody in
late January issued a 15-point security action plan, funded
by an initial $2 million from the President's Office and
the Homewood deans, and expanded a standing task force into
a 26-member Committee on Homewood Safety and Security.
Among other enhancements, additional guards, including
off-duty police officers, have been hired; entrances to
student residences will be made more secure; and lighting
in the surrounding community has been enhanced.