Video Surveillance Cameras on Campus: All You Need to Know
News@AUC met with General Mohamed Ebeid, executive director for safety and security, to explain video surveillance cameras on campus: what they are, why they are there and how they help ensure the safety and security of the AUC community.
What is the current state of surveillance cameras on campus?
Cameras have been used in AUC’s parking lots since 2008 to ensure the safety and security of the AUC community. We now have about 30 cameras in the parking lots. There are also cameras at all campus gates and entrances, as well as the registrar’s office.
What are the cameras used for?
The cameras are installed to ensure the safety and security of the AUC community. That’s our primary concern. They are also there for any emergencies. For example, in the parking lot, if you find a flat tire or something wrong with your car, you can push a button on the camera and talk to someone in the control room who can help you with your problem. The cameras are also used for surveillance. If something goes wrong, we can go back and use the camera footage to understand what happened.
What are some incidents caught on camera that have benefited the AUC community?
There are several such incidents. For example, a student complained that her laptop was stolen inside the parking lot. When we checked the cameras, it turns out that the student placed her laptop on the trunk of her car while she was busy doing something else. She then drove off without realizing that her laptop was still on top of the car.
Cameras have also proven useful at bus terminals, where people sometimes forget their mobile phones or laptops.
There have been several occasions when private drivers would try to steal cars in the AUC parking lots after they drop off people on campus. These private drivers were caught and reported to the police. There was also an instance when a student stole another student’s laptop inside the registrar’s office, and a time when money was stolen from an ATM machine inside campus when the student performed a transaction and forgot her card inside the machine.
In all these instances, thanks to the cameras, we were able to trace what happened and help return items to their owners.
What are the next steps in installing cameras on campus?
Currently, we just finished the first phase of installing cameras, which includes the outer fence of the campus. Before this, we saw nothing around campus. Now, we have cameras surrounding the outer fence.
We are also working on installing cameras along the inner fence, which is very important because it’s the second layer of security to the outer fence. It is very short and runs around campus for a long distance, so it’s necessary to install cameras there. This way, we can see if anybody tries to throw something inside the campus or jump over the fence, for example.
The next phase will include installing cameras in public spaces inside campus, like Bartlett Plaza. We constantly have events on campus that are open to the public, so we regularly have visitors and outsiders who are not members of the AUC community inside the campus premises. Cameras are very important in that regard. Additionally, in public spaces such as the plaza, many people forget their laptops and mobile phones, so we will be able to help them find their items.
Which places do not have cameras installed?
Cameras are not placed in offices, classrooms or any private places such as the dorms. We are not going to do anything against someone’s privacy. The security office intends to have cameras where it’s important to improve safety and security.
Are the cameras threatening in any way to the AUC community?
Absolutely not. Cameras are there for the protection of the whole community. Hopefully, nothing bad will happen, but if something does, we need to identify who, what, where, why and how. People are still free to do what they want. However, if there is vandalism, damage or violation of University policies, the cameras will help us understand what happened.
Why is this an important time to maximize security on campus?
We are currently dealing with the recent security situation of the whole country. In the recent church bombings, for example, the cameras were very important. It is crucial to see who is on campus, as there are many events each day, week and month, with a large number of people coming in from outside. We are living and working together in a huge place. We can’t have thousands of security guards on campus, so this is where the cameras come in handy.
What is the main thing you want to emphasize to the AUC community about these cameras?
The cameras are there for your safety and protection. We want you to always feel secure inside the AUC campus. It is our responsibility to keep the campus safe and to protect the community, and the cameras help us do that effectively.