Video Surveillance Best Practices: What Works

Our experts explain how camera selection and placement, appropriate integration and the right policies allow your campus to make the most of your video surveillance technology.


Berklee College of Music’s Systems Manager Nicholas Costa worked closely with his campus’ I.T. department when upgrading his school’s video surveillance system.

“We’ve developed a very close relationship with the network group, and they’ve accommodated us,” he claims. Some of the network upgrades included things like power of the Ethernet (POE) switches.

Another approach is to segregate cameras into separate systems.

“For example, if you know that a particular part of the campus will use a certain amount of megapixel cameras, then you can build those cameras in one location with the transmission and NVRs or DVRs into a closet so you don’t necessarily bleed all of that bandwidth over the backbone,” Mellos says. Institutions can also deploy physical or virtual backbones specific to security.

Video surveillance compression methods are another approach to handling bandwidth issues, although Mellos warns that it isn’t a panacea.

Related Article: 7 Factors Campuses Should Consider When Selecting an IP Video Solution

Cost Savings, Privacy Policies Soothe Fears of Doubters
Probably the biggest challenge for campus security stakeholders, however, isn’t technical. It’s political. Turf battles and fears about upsetting the status quo abound.

One security director for an Ivy League institution (who asked to remain unnamed), however, says the benefits of the upgraded video system have helped to soothe the concerns of many individuals on his campus. One of those benefits includes less maintenance, since the new system doesn’t use DVRs. The only maintenance required involves the infrastructure and cameras, which reduces the solution’s overall cost.

The fact that there is extra security between the servers and devices also helps. The sy
stem is very difficult to hack, which gives it credibility when there are privacy concerns voiced by various individuals on campus.

Strict policies limiting who can view the recorded images also help to allay fears. “It’s not used to determine if an administrative assistant came in late or left early, or a student wasn’t in the study hall for the amount of time he needed to be there,” the director says.

The Ivy League director also recommends that the decision to install or upgrade video surveillance be customer driven rather than dictated by the security department.

“We don’t go in with a stick,” he says. “We go in with a carrot. We are here to help you. If you want our help, we will certainly give you everything we can to support you. We’re not going to force anything down anyone’s throat.”

He also says that costs should be shared between the department and security. That way, the department won’t have unrealistic expectations or ask for an unreasonably expensive solution.

The successful recovery of stolen goods is probably the most effective way to persuade campus constituents of the value of video surveillance.

“The faculty and staff have been extremely receptive to it,” Costa says. “When I got here three years ago, a lot of staff were concerned we were going to become Big Brother. But once we started recovering those stolen items, they started seeing it as an asset.”  

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About the Author

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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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