University Security

An IP-centric approach has helped guide the University of Miami’s move to advanced, centralized video surveillance

IQeye cameras are installed wherever image quality is critical for identification purposes — parking lots and areas that typically have a high density of students. For the University of Miami’s megapixel cameras, image quality was a critical requirement. “You often see with those typical convenience store robberies that the camera gets an image, but you can’t see who the bad guy is,” Ruano says. “We’ve had several instances in which the police get a screen shot or a video clip from 20, 30, even 40 feet away and you can ID that person.”

All cameras on the centralized system are managed through the OnSSI software and fed into a central control located in the Campus Police Dispatch room. The control room displays video on 40-inch monitors and video is running and can be monitored 24/7 — although video is used mostly for post-event investigation. “The quality of pictures available to the police has definitely improved, so it is much more effective in making positive identifications,” Ruano adds.

The OnSSI video management software enables Campus Police to view images from all the IQeye and other cameras, while each school or separate department can view only the cameras installed in its buildings or area. In the police dispatch room, officers can review video from a touchscreen interface aided by mapping software that enables the viewer to drill down to the location and view what they want easily.

“The university administration sees our video surveillance system as an important, valuable deterrent tool,” Ruano says. “Some see Miami as a high-crime city, so the fact that we have a video surveillance system of this size and high quality is very important for our student’s parents — they need to be assured that the university has made, and will continue to make, a major investment in the security infrastructure in order to provide a safer environment for their children.”

Future Expansion

Even with 424 cameras currently on the centralized video surveillance system, there are still more than 100 cameras that will eventually be incorporated under the single, unified video management system. For any new construction in which video will be installed, requests must go through Campus Police. This means the IT Security Department will then consult with the police to ensure all new cameras are incorporated into the existing centralized IP system.

Weatherly, Ruano, and other university IT Security staff continue to explore ways to assist law enforcement in more effectively performing their critical work. Improvements under study include enabling police to view video from squad cars and the ability to monitor video on iPads or other mobile devices while patrolling on foot. Ruano and Weatherly are conducting due diligence on H.264 cameras as well as facial recognition and license plate recognition software to constantly improve the police’s capabilities.

“Staff and faculty notice the IQeye camera’s sleek design, which is not intimidating, yet it has a great picture and it blends very well with the environment — it’s aesthetically appealing,” Weatherly says. “They have seen these cameras and they feel protected.”
Ruano and the University of Miami have come a long way in the last five-plus years, going from a host of random DVRs scattered throughout the campus to what will soon be a 500-camera, centralized, unified megapixel quality video surveillance platform. “There has definitely been a reduction in the number of incidents,” Ruano says. “Police have been able to solve a lot more crimes than in the past and they are closing the cases faster. This technology makes them much more productive.”