Uni going ahead with CCTV plan

The University of Otago today announced it has scaled back its plan to dot CCTV cameras around the student quarter and central Dunedin.

In a press release this morning, the university said that as a result of submissions from students, its staff recommended going ahead with the plan, but with fewer cameras.

The total number of cameras dropped from 66 to 44, but the university expected it would be able to maintain the same coverage by using "higher spec" cameras.

The revised plan was approved in the non-public part of this week's university council meeting.

The plan was split in to two phases, with the first involving areas north and south of the campus, including on Castle and Leith Sts.

The next phase involved areas east of the campus, including Clyde, Dundas and George Sts.

University chief operating officer Stephen Willis said the university listened to all student feedback.

Of 98 student submissions, 57 supported the cameras being installed, mainly for safety reasons, and 34 were opposed, mainly over privacy issues.

"Many students are supportive of the use of CCTV for these reasons if done right, but some students still expressed concerns that there isn’t enough evidence and that crime is already low. 

"While crime is low, crime against students has been creeping up," Mr Willis said.

Independent research would be carried out to evaluate whether the roll-out was successful.

"The purpose of CCTV is not to monitor normal student behaviour and punish every minor infraction but to keep students safe by reducing crime against them and being able to catch offenders.

"If a student is burgled they’ll be able to get in touch with Campus Watch so that the footage can be used to track down their property and the perpetrator," Mr Willis said.

After earlier saying resource consent was not needed for the installation of the CCTV cameras, the university today acknowledged they would need to apply for consent for cameras in either the city's heritage or townscape precinct (which are closer to the central city).


University may be consulting with students, but how about the public?
I have to question the legality of a private organisation video taping the public. Just who decides what video is given or sold to who? How long is it kept for? Are they going to link the video to facebook or Google to identify members of the public?

The university may have some interest in recording people inside the campus area, but do they have any legal right to video people as far as George St. DCC has some vague entitlement to run a surveillance system in partnership with police. I for one don't believe any private organisation should have such a right.

Is the surveillance recorded, or live monitoring?