Daniel Chi / Asst. photo editor
The number of cameras watching Ohio State is expected to double over the next few years, partially because of new software that allows for cheaper installation.
Ron Balser, director of OSU security and protective services, said the way OSU approaches security it is not forced to use just one piece of equipment and isn’t “stuck with one brand.”
Balser said since OSU departments and organizations purchase their own surveillance equipment, they could save up to 50 percent because of the flexibility to choose from a variety of camera brands.
“Let’s say we had a seven- or eight-camera system that we probably could do for about $40,000. Easily I think we could come down to $25,000,” Balser said.
OSU’s library system is one organization taking advantage of the savings to update the “backbone” of its surveillance operations, including upgrading channeling and storage units where video footage is held.
The system was at the point where pieces had to be replaced, Balser said, and savings are already evident.
The number of surveillance cameras has increased to more than 1,800 from 1,200 in the last few years, Balser said.
“Cameras have gone through the roof because the expectation from the public – meaning you, me, and everybody these days – that if there’s a problem there should be a camera watching that problem,” Balser said.
OSU Police Chief Paul Denton said surveillance cameras are an important part of the campus security effort, including sworn police officers.
“It gives us the opportunity to follow up on more leads, but they’re not a panacea,” Denton said. “If you capture someone on camera and they’re not known, it may not work out like you see on TV.”
Students said they would like to see more cameras in some locations.
“I think an increase in cameras would be great because campus currently has a lot of blind spots. I think even doubling the number of cameras still won’t cover all of the blind spots, but it definitely will make the university safer,” said Drew Landgrave, a first-year in animal sciences.
“I see the purpose of having more cameras to stop crimes or gather evidence for crimes that occur, but I think maybe they should only increase the amount of cameras in areas where crimes are occurring the most,” said Chris Summers, a third-year in art and technology.
OSU’s Department of Public Safety is aiming to combine the offices of the Public Safety Communication Center and the Central Alarm Center into one room in Blankenship Hall. Public Safety is seeking university funding for the project, Bulser said.
“I don’t know if (combining the centers) will have a big effect on stopping crime, because some robberies happen within a minute and police aren’t able to respond quick enough,” Summers said.
Cameron Roda contributed to this article.