The Heart of the Campus
University of Massachusetts Boston deploys 180-degree cameras to better protect its Campus Center
- By Steve Gorski
- Apr 01, 2015
With a strong reputation for innovative research
addressing complex urban issues, the University
of Massachusetts Boston offers its diverse,
17,000-student population both an intimate
learning environment and the rich experience of
a great American city.
As the “front door” of the university, the student Campus Center
welcomes students, faculty, staff and visitors to this scenic waterfront
campus. A 330,000-square-foot, $80 million facility built in 2004, the
Campus Center is a gathering place that builds and encourages community
interaction. As part of its effort to create and maintain a safe
environment for the community, the UMass Boston Public Safety
Department installed Scallop Imaging 180-degree surveillance cameras
in key areas throughout the center to protect students, staff and
assets from theft, vandalism and harm.
The UMass Boston Department of Public Safety has invested in a campus-
wide surveillance system to prevent unlawful activity, prevent student
mischief and solve crimes as quickly as possible. However, some
areas of the Campus Center, which present physical challenges because
of size, location and activity levels, require technology that could more
effectively capture a wide-angle view.
“We looked at several options, but chose the Scallop Imaging vision
system because it is cost-effective, delivers complete situational awareness,
and is manufactured locally,” said Peter Bonitatibus, director of
information systems and technology for the division of Student Affairs
at UMass Boston.
Meeting the Students’ Needs
UMass Boston installed Scallop Imaging surveillance cameras in the
Atrium Café seating area, a 120-feet wide and 35-feet deep student
meeting area on the upper level of the Campus Center, and in the main
lobby, a large, open space that is heavily used. The Scallop Imaging
cameras provide a wide-angle view of each space combined with four
separate and focused views, including the cash register and dining
tables in the shop, the information desk, main entrance and elevator in
the lobby. The cameras were easily integrated into the campus-wide
security system, which runs on the Genetec unified security platform.
UMass Boston Public Safety Communications Center staff monitor the
system live, 24-7.
“We don’t monitor all our cameras around the clock, but because the
security solution covers such a wide area and provides such useful
footage, they get the most usage,” Bonitatibus said.
Installation was quick and easy. “The IT department pulled the
wires, and after verifying the correct angles, we mounted the cameras
and turned the system on—that’s how easy it was,” Bonitatibus said. In
the year and a half since the first camera was installed, UMass Boston’s
maintenance needs have been limited. “We haven’t had to touch the
cameras—we are very impressed with their performance,” he said.
The university has been so impressed, in fact, that it plans to add
more cameras as budget allows.
The fact that the Scallop Imaging system delivers a true, continuous
180-degree view without distortion was a key selling feature.
“Scallop Imaging offers an outstanding panoramic view in one video
frame,” Bonitatibus said. At the same time, the cameras deliver simultaneous
zoom details of up to four distinct views of each space.
According to Bonitatibus, the added benefit of a Scallop surveillance
solution is that he can watch the entire area and capture the detail he
needs with just one camera, which means only one point of failure
should a problem occur. Another standout feature of the camera system
is the way it stitches multiple images with overlapping fields-ofview
to produce a real panoramic image.
“Because the video is made from a series of individual cameras
stitched into a single, live view, images flow naturally without any
breaks or lines,” Bonitatibus said.
Scallop Imaging uses distributed imaging to act like the human eye,
and because all pixels are combined in one image, people or objects
don’t disappear as they move across the image. UMass Boston detectives
have been pleased with the system’s near human view.
The cameras’ sleek and discreet form factor is a noteworthy feature.
“Unlike most surveillance systems, the cameras are designed with a
small form factor and inconspicuous appearance that provide the flexibility
to customize the solution to meet specific architectural requirements,”
The fact that Scallop Imaging is a local company that manufactures
its products in the United States was another key factor.
By manufacturing products in the USA, Scallop Imaging can maintain
high quality and low failure rates. As a local company, UMass
Boston’s integrator BCM Controls was also familiar with Scallop Imaging,
which further expedited installation.
During the procurement process, it became clear to Bonitatibus that
the Scallop Imaging surveillance platform was less expensive than
competing solutions and would deliver a greater return on investment
in the long run.
“If I can purchase a camera for $2,500 versus $4,000, I will choose
the more cost-effective option every time,” Bonitatibus said. “And,
because I only need one camera instead of six to cover the same area,
Scallop Imaging delivers a much stronger price:performance ratio.”
The university also saves on networking costs because fewer wires and
switches are required and less power is consumed.
The UMass Boston Campus Center serves as the “living room” of the
university—a comfortable place for students, faculty, staff, and visitors to
gather. With its floor-to-ceiling windows, relaxing lounges and stunning
views of the Boston Harbor, the Campus Center is the perfect place to
nurture student life and build a strong sense of community.
“The UMass Boston Public Safety team works
diligently 24 hours a day to create and maintain the
safest and most comfortable student environment
possible,” Bonitatibus said. “Scallop Imaging technologies
play a critical role in our efforts to monitor
and protect the busiest places on campus.”
This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Security Today.