University Of Kentucky To Install 2,000 Security Cameras On Campus, Sparking Privacy Concerns

The University of Kentucky plans to put up 2,000 surveillance cameras on campus as part of a $5 million security overhaul, a move that has some civil liberties advocates concerned.

The cameras' software will be able to detect a strange or unexpected movement, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader, but will store recorded video for only a limited period of time. In addition, new student ID cards will allow the university to track when students enter buildings after hours, using a proximity chip.

"This will allow us unprecedented capability for monitoring the campus for crime and protecting our students, employees and visitors in the event of emergencies, including natural disasters or large-scale acts of criminal behavior," UK Police Chief Joe Monroe told the Herald-Leader.

That impressive ability to monitor people on campus has drawn the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"You're capturing a lot of information about people who are completely innocent," ACLU of Kentucky spokeswoman Amber Duke told the Herald-Leader. "That's a lot of information that could be misused."

University President Eli Capilouto insisted to the Kentucky Kernal that the new security measures wouldn't overstep any boundaries. "We do not have goals to snoop or be intrusive," he said.

UK was given a 36-month window in June 2012 to complete the project after gaining approval from the university's governing board. At the time, the university had roughly 30 security cameras on campus.

Anthany Beatty, the assistant vice president for campus services who's overseeing the security overhaul, told Security Info Watch that the school's security systems hadn't "progressed much" in three decades.

"We figured we had somewhere around 70 [cameras] installed, independently operating legacy systems with no centralized monitoring of video capability, no centralized monitoring of security systems and no centralized capability in terms of getting messages out," Beatty said. "We had actually setup a system for getting alerts out post-Virginia Tech, but in terms of public address and other types of notification, we had not done that."

The university also planted 26 blue light emergency towers, which can broadcast a warning in event of an emergency situation, the Kentucky Kernal reports.

The towers give the university the ability to alert students who may not be signed up for emergency text and email notifications. Such alerts in the event of an ongoing threat, such as the active-shooter scenario at Virginia Tech or open fire by the Boston Marathon bombing suspects on MIT's campus, are required by federal law.



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