U. Minn. using video intelligence with cameras

School among others pilot-testing software to aid their video surveillance installations

While security officials acknowledge that the high-tech software can be construed by some people as having too much of a "big brother" feel to it, they are charged with keeping the campus as safe as possible.

"We want to do everything we can to keep our students safe," Jorgenson said. Cameras "are also a visual deterrent. If you see the cameras, you're less likely to do something there. You can't have police officers on every corner, you can't put a squad car everywhere at all times. But if you know there's a camera there, you're less likely to go up and assault someone there."

More money needed

It seems unlikely that Perceptrak will end up on every camera on campus, but officials would like to see the program grow. Money will determine how quickly that happens.

It costs about $20,000 for each 10 cameras to which the software is added. The university, however, has spent millions of dollars in recent years on security.

Janoski said that the university allocates about $2 million per year for security upgrades. That money has been used for projects ranging from card-access for buildings to things as simple as fencing.

"We're going to compete for that money for this program," he said. "We hope to expand it gradually. It's a tool that can help us do our job better."