University Surveillance Profile: Gallaudet

By Carlton Purvis, Published Dec 10, 2013, 12:00am EST (Info+)

We visited Theodore Baran, the security director at Gallaudet University, a private school for deaf and hard of hearing students in the heart of the District of Columbia about public safety and security in this unique population.

Campus Demographics

Gallaudet has around 2,000 students enrolled. Its undergraduate students make up half the campus and are mostly deaf. There is a small portion of the student body that is deaf and blind. Gallaudet’s graduate students are a mix of hearing and deaf/hard of hearing students.

Watching Conversations

Video surveillance systems don't capture audio, but one of the most unique things about surveillance in a deaf population is that you don’t need audio to capture ongoing conversations.

That most people on campus are using American Sign Language to communicate, “is an advantage we have,” said Baran who noted that conversations have been used to vet or support how someone has described an incident.

“If someone is standing there talking about if they have marijuana then we can see that. I don’t think some people realize that.”

Cameras

The campus has around 160 cameras and uses a mix of fixed and PTZs -- about 50 percent of each, the director says. All feeds go to a central command center in the campus public safety office where they are watched by one or two operators. By default monitors are set to watch Gallaudet’s highest traffic areas. No video analytics are in use.

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Communication ** ******* ***********

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Emergency ************

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Access *******The campus which sits in D.C.’s Trinidad neighborhood is completely fenced in with five gates that stay open during business hours. The wrought iron fence below outlines the campus perimeter. You can see a *** ** *** ***** **********. 

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Comments (2)

I am curious about the audio aspect. If in general audio needs authorization, what happens in this situation where you are not recording audio but you can actaully hear them because of sign language? How does that play into people privacy laws?

It would seem to make good sense to provide the guard shack personnel with access to live camera views. Perhaps a budgetary issue?

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