No More Camera Chaos for the U. of Illinois

This Midwestern institution has deployed a video surveillance management platform that enables campus police to centrally monitor the campus’ 4,500 cameras.

Departments Can Monitor Their Video

The vast majority of cameras are provided by Axis Communications. The projects underway now range in size from six cameras to about 70 cameras and feature a mix of fixed, megapixel and pan/tilt/zoom cameras, depending on the application.

Each department also retains the ability to monitor its own video, although the university’s security camera policy requires that video also be fed directly back to the police dispatch center over the campus’ fiber backbone. This way, on-duty dispatchers can view live video or access archived events.

Administration rights are also centralized at the dispatch center, which are handled by a dedicated police department staffer tasked with managing the Milestone system, including software updates, access rights and other associated tasks. All police officers, as well as the university’s telecommunications/IT staff, will also be trained on the software.

According to Hetrick, a centrally managed system can help the campus police department solve cases more quickly.

“We should be able to cut a huge amount of time from our investigations now that the video is available,” he says.

Library, Residence Halls Install Cameras

Ongoing projects include the university’s main library, which houses a large rare book collection that will be protected by more than 20 cameras. The collection includes approximately 1,100 books printed before the year 1501, such as 24 leaves of the Johannes Gutenberg Bible. It also contains compilations of original papers by Mark Twain and Marcel Proust. Other areas of the main library are also being considered for camera installations.

A key arrangement with the university’s housing administration will result in camera coverage at building entrances and exits for the school’s on-campus residential halls. Ikenberry Commons, a new six-building complex to be completed in 2015, will boast about 60 cameras when finished, while 35 cameras are being installed in an already-completed commons area dining hall. These video units will monitor retail applications there.

One key aspect of the centralized security plan is still being deployed: About 80 percent of the departments on campus are still using their own individually maintained servers for video storage. That arrangement will change once public safety officials and CITES finalize options for centralized recording storage for archived video.

For now, video is stored both locally and at the management server level at the police department. Retention times range from 30 days up to 120 days depending on insurance or
regulatory requirements for archived video.

Open Platform Allows Integration with Access Control

Because of the Milestone Systems open platform, police are moving forward with testing the integration of camera systems with door access control. As of August 2010, the integration, using Andover Controls software and integration services through Schneider Electric, is up and running at a test site at the police department. 

Courtney Dillon Pedersen, PR manager at Milestone Systems, writes customer case stories to educate the market in the benefits of using IP technology.

Campus Shares Resources With Transportation Authority


The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s use of the Milestone system has already spawned a resource-sharing agreement between the public safety department and the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, a public-private transportation authority that provides bus service within the cities of Champaign and Urbana and to locations throughout the University of Illinois campus.

After security officials from the transit district contacted the university’s police department about their use of the Milestone system, the campus IT department and public safety officials agreed to manage the video from the transit district.

With funding from a U.S. Department of Transportation grant, transit district buses are in the process of being outfitted with 300 new or upgraded cameras that will eventually provide video of incidents and conditions on the buses, as well as at bus stops and traffic intersections. The video will be accessible to university police, as well as to local law enforcement in Urbana and Champaign.

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Campus Safety magazine is another great resource for public safety, security and emergency management professionals. It covers all aspects of campus safety, including access control, video surveillance, mass notification and security staff practices. Whether you work in K-12, higher ed, a hospital or corporation, Campus Safety magazine is here to help you do your job better!

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