Penn State to install security cameras in residence halls to enhance safety

September 20, 2013

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State's Board of Trustees was informed today (Sept. 20) of the installation of approximately 450 Internet protocol-based video surveillance cameras in 60 residence hall and commons buildings at the University Park campus. The cameras will monitor ground-floor entrance lobbies, exit stairwells, elevators and commons service desks.

“The safety and security of our residents is a top priority and we are excited to move ahead with this important project," said Joel Weidner, director of information technology and marketing in the office of auxiliary and business services. "We have had card access at our residence hall entrances for years and the new video system will provide additional safeguards that will enhance the security of our residential communities."

Current plans call for installation to begin in October and be completed by May 2014.

"Safety is a priority and we're continually searching for ways to further enhance it for our residents and their guests. Expanding our surveillance camera program is part of that commitment, just as the card access program and the sprinkler initiative have been," said Gail Hurley, associate vice president for Auxiliary and Business Services, referring to the installation of sprinkler systems in all on-campus housing at all campuses in 2008.

Residence halls already are equipped with card access and door alarm systems. All residence hall facilities with common entrances and exits have had these safety measures in place for more than 15 years. Several residence halls at Commonwealth campuses – Penn State Beaver, Penn State Harrisburg, Penn State Greater Allegheny and Penn State Mont Alto – also employ keyless entry systems on individual student room doors. In addition, the current card access system at University Park is undergoing an upgrade to install technology using the same standard as the University Police system that controls academic buildings. The conversion of other residential campuses will follow.

The updated card access system will integrate with the planned video surveillance system to provide enhanced monitoring capabilities. Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses began installing security cameras in residence halls in 1995, and now cameras are installed as a standard feature as part of the building process. As existing video surveillance systems at campuses need to be replaced, they will be upgraded to the same system now being installed at University Park.

There are 53 "traditional" residence halls and seven commons buildings at University Park, along with 45 apartment buildings, all serving 14,240 students. Weidner added that the installed video cameras will not be monitored real-time and will be used primarily by University police for investigative purposes and as a deterrent to criminal behavior. A minimum of 30 days of video will be stored in networked video recorders (NVRs).

The NVRs and related software will use American Dynamic technology which will be compatible with existing Police Services and Access Control and Electronic Systems infrastructure. The cost estimate for this project is approximately $1.4 million, which will come from funding designated for capital improvement projects.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated September 20, 2013