Penn and Drexel University’s Public Safety divisions will begin a new joint surveillance program to improve crime-fighting capabilities across both campuses.
Both schools already have video cameras observing activities on the streets around the universities. They will begin a camera-sharing program in which they can pull up each other’s information and communicate more quickly.
Penn’s Division of Public Safety estimates that there will be about five shared cameras from each school. Another planning meeting will take place in about a month.
The program involves both institutions relinquishing some control over their own safety equipment in an effort to facilitate faster responses to crimes.
PennComm Director of Technology and Emergency Communications Mitchell Yanak said, “Drexel and Penn agreed we could both benefit” from this new program.
“We can already communicate directly with Drexel, but if we could just pull up their cameras, it would eliminate the middle man,” he added.
Yanak said the idea for a similar program was brought up two years ago, but there were too many technology and system issues involved in the process of internal changes, so the program was scrapped. Additionally, Yanak said the cost of the changes was thought to be “a little high,” due to differences in the networks of the universities.
However, according to Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush, when the issue was re-approached at the beginning of this semester, the program was estimated to save money.
“This is actually a cost savings across the board,” Rush said. “It’s definitely cheaper for each institution.”
Rush said that with this new program, both Penn and Drexel’s Public Safety divisions wish to convey the message that they will cooperate in law enforcement.
Rush said, “If you are going to be affected by a crime, we don’t care if you are Penn or Drexel.”
She added that the two universities share the same safety goals and that with the camera-sharing system being mutually beneficial and cost savvy, it was a no brainer.
There is currently no set timeline for the program’s implementation, as they are still finalizing changes to the network.
As the project moves further along, the locations of specific camera sites will be made available by DPS.
This article was revised to show that camera sharing will not begin in a month. Rather, another planning meeting is scheduled for next month.
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