Georgia Tech surveillance system launches

ATLANTA-- The room is deep within the headquarters of Georgia Tech's police department, a place where workers can eyeball much of Tech's campus with a computer click. The facility is a feed point for 16 new video cameras, many of them on the periphery of Tech's campus -- regions that have plagued Tech students with criminal activity over the last four plus years.

"We have pretty much every entry and exit point covered," said Walter Warner, communications supervisor of the operations center. "We have a lot of the interior of the campus covered, as well as high pedestrian area."

Those staffing the room and watching the feeds are mostly students, working part time. With another click, they can access more than 700 cameras that cover classroom buildings-- a staggering quantity of mostly routine campus scenes.

"After you've been here for awhile, you start to develop a sense of what looks right and what looks wrong," said Jeremy Tallant, a Tech senior in chemical and biomolecular engineering, who is lead technical assistant in the operations center. "So looking at a particular feed I've looked at a thousand times, it seems fairly easy to pick up on something that seems out of place."

The images last thirty days. Police say the cameras' biggest value has been an ability to go back in time and examine crime scenes and even pick out suspects among the passers-by.

"It's a great tool for solving crimes," said interim police chief Robert Connally. Its backers are hoping this room will help transform Georgia Tech from a crime problem spot to one of the city's safest.


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