Despite the fact that the University of Iowa has approximately 700 surveillance cameras located around its campus, school officials are yet to be sure where all the accessories are located. For this reason, among others, administrators created a policy earlier this year that requires officials to find and assess the use of the devices around the community, according to a report by the school's independent student newspaper, The Daily Iowan.
The policy also says that any future cameras need to be approved by a committee, which is in the process of being established, the newspaper said.
"I think [the policy] came about out of an interest to try to have some consistency and careful thought about when to use surveillance cameras," said Kevin Ward, assistant vice president for human resources at the University of Iowa, according to The Daily Iowan. "It reinforces a safe campus for students, faculty and staff."
The program also requires any party that wishes to have surveillance cameras inside or outside a specific building to pay for the gadgets and any installation fees.
Surveillance brings controversy and potential
Privacy has always been a touchy subject regarding surveillance, as many people feel the inappropriate monitoring of the public's behavior is unjust. This was highlighted in a separate report by KSL, which found that many people think the use of surveillance creates a Big Brother type atmosphere.
"The current wave is the efforts to tie together public and private surveillance, which creates the potential for a pervasive surveillance system to track people from block to block," said Jay Stanley of The American Civil Liberties Union, according to KSL.
Despite these concerns, the surveillance policy was implemented with the best intentions to make the campus a safer place, The Daily Iowan said. Recorded footage will also help local law enforcement officers resolve and potentially reduce crime on campus.
"The university is committed to protecting the safety and property of our community," UI spokesman Tom Moore said, according to The Daily Iowan. "The policy is intended to ensure the appropriate use of video surveillance for reasons of safety and security. It [also] helps in the investigation of any incident that may be captured on video."
As school shootings and other troubling incidents continue to plague the nation's higher education facilities, surveillance cameras may become an increasingly important tool used to keep students safe, regardless of any privacy concerns.