The Heart of the Campus

University of Massachusetts Boston deploys 180-degree cameras to better protect its Campus Center

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.

Campus-wide Surveillance

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.

Distortion-free Views

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,” Bonitatibus said.

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.

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