Moveable Webcam gives view of campus

Big brother is not the only one watching you; other students can use a camera to spy on the campus construction – and anyone going to and from the Student Center.One of the 55 cameras around campus can be manipulated by students to watch the construction 24 hours a day by going to the TCU Web site and clicking the link to the campus construction page.

Every person who logs onto the camera has 30 seconds to change the direction of the camera, said Sgt. Kelly Ham of the TCU Police.

“The camera is actually like a large painting, it’s not actually moving when you change the position of the camera on-screen,” Ham said. “It’s actually just zooming into a section of what the camera sees.”

If a student was physically moving the camera the system would become useless to police in case of an emergency, he said.

Unlike traditional security systems, the camera is not being actively monitored by a TCU Police officer. But, if an incident were to happen, TCU Police could go back and verify what happened.

“It was installed as a beta and we liked it so much we installed a similar camera in the Sav-on lot,” Ham said.

Suzy Adams, associate vice chancellor for student affairs, said TCU needs more cameras to keep students safe.

“My right to privacy is one of my values,” Adams said. “But I favor cameras and more of them.”

Ham insisted there are no cameras placed that would infringe on anyone’s personal privacy.

Larry Markley, director of the Student Center, said the whole purpose of the camera is to watch the construction. When the current construction is completed, the camera will be removed and placed elsewhere.

Ham, however, said he hopes to keep the camera up and running over the Frog Lawn area as part of his five-year plan.

Several years ago, when the Tucker Technology Center was under construction, a similar camera was placed on the roof of the library allowing students to watch the construction as it progressed, Markley said.

Ham said the camera was the first of many as part of a five-year plan he has proposed to place more cameras around campus. If the five-year plan is put into effect all parking lots around campus would have coverage.

“We have discussed putting security cameras in the new Student Union; however, we didn’t get very far because of cost concerns,” Markely said.

He also said he had a similar discussion several years ago for the current Student Center but the same concerns about cost were encountered.

“So instead we decided to install fake video cameras to make people think they were on camera,” he said.

Some students do not share Ham’s optimism about the camera system.

Missy Haines, a sophomore psychology major, said she was unsympathetic about the idea of the camera when she first heard about it.

“To be honest, its kind of creepy,” Haines said. “I’m not sure why it would benefit students, maybe TCU administrators.”

But Haines also said the camera could be useful to non-TCU residents such as her parents who live in Kansas so they could see how the construction is progressing.