Ninety-five cameras have been installed on Oakland Tech’s campus as part of a new school safety project that will eventually have all twenty-six district middle and high schools in the city wired. According to the Oakland Unified School District’s procurement officer, Michael Moore, the plan is to install a total of 750 cameras, which will be monitored by both the police and the district.
Tech’s cameras, which have just gone online, are the first in the district to be fully operational. They cover the majority of public spaces on the campus, including the outside perimeter, hallways, and the auditorium. Classrooms, bathrooms and offices are not under surveillance.
The new cameras were funded by a $1.5 million Secure Our Schools grant from the US Department of Justice and matching funds from the school district’s modernization fund, Moore said.
The ninety-five new cameras at Tech replace 35 old ones, three of which were no longer working. The older cameras were installed separately and by different vendors and were not linked into one system the way the new ones will be, Moore said.
The Google Earth-based interface allows those with the correct permissions – selected administrators, district officials and police – to click on a satellite picture of Tech’s grounds and get a full screen feed of what’s going on at different locations. As Moore moved his mouse over the map and clicked the brightly colored icons, a birds-eye view of high school life popped onto the screen: nobody in the parking lot, two girls chatting in a stairwell, a gym class in two groups on the basketball court.
Moore says that the cameras will help to improve the school environment, allow security personnel to watch for intruders, and assist in emergency preparedness. Some of the cameras operate on an uninterruptable power source so that if a major event, like an earthquake, disrupted power the cameras would stay online for four additional hours.
It is not known how many cameras are currently installed on OUSD campuses because many are not working, Moore said. More information on the project, which is expected to be complete by August of 2011, will be forthcoming, Moore said.