New college security system worries privacy advocates

The University of Kentucky is spending nearly $5 million to assemble a campus security system that relies heavily on 2,000 surveillance cameras, raising questions among some privacy advocates.

The new system will feature 2,000 surveillance cameras.

Other elements of the system include student ID cards that can track when students enter buildings after hours and the ability to lock down buildings from another location.

The system also includes 26 new “Blue Phone” locations with video cameras, as well as early-warning speakers for crises such as weather emergencies, which will augment the UK Alert system of email, text and phone messages.

“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,” said UK Police Chief Joe Monroe.

The university has hired Next Level Security Systems to install the system. The cameras won’t be continually monitored by a person, but video analytics software can detect a strange or unexpected movement, then send an automatic alarm to a dispatch center.

“We’re trying to leverage technology instead of manpower,” Monroe said.

The system will allow police to review footage at any time, which will let “people cover so much more ground,” Monroe said.

Student IDs will now be used to swipe into most buildings on campus, including dorms. For example, a classroom building will stay open all day, but if a student wanted to use the building at night, they would use their ID to unlock the door.

See Page 2 for details on how the increased surveillance has some human rights advocates worried.