This time next year, students can expect to feel Big Brother over their shoulders as they surf the Internet on a new and improved Wi-Fi system.
More than 450 cameras will be dispersed among various Rancho Santiago Community College District sites, with as many as 200 at Santa Ana College.
The monies will come from the district’s Capital Projects Fund, said Peter Hardash, vice chancellor of business operations and fiscal services. The state will fund part of the project.
The rest will come from funds that have been set aside for security and maintenance development.
“We won’t be using the district’s general fund, so it is coming from money we already have,” Hardash said.
The cameras will be placed around campus access points, including entrances and exits to buildings. District safety officers worked with private security companies to determine optimal camera placement.
A new “beefed-up” Wi-Fi system will serve as the infrastructure for the cameras. “The new Wi-Fi will be the best of the best … and the installation for that should begin within the next few months,” Hardash said.
He added that the system is “more of a theft deterrent,” designed to keep thefts to a minimum. The cameras will allow officers to accurately identify perpetrators when crimes are committed.
Cameras located around buildings will be mounted on existing walls with minimal hardware. Those in the parking lots will be attached to light poles to offset costs.
“This is a safety issue, but we are also trying to respect people’s privacy,” Hardash said.
Potential thieves will not be the only ones affected by this new system. Hardash said many trees in the Quad would need to be trimmed to allow the cameras to operate efficiently. No trees would be cut down.
The cameras will operate on a digital video recording-like system, which will allow district safety officers to access the recordings digitally.
After all the necessary bidding and licensing are complete, the installation process should begin in February with the goal of having both SAC and SCC’s campuses finished within a year.
“After all that,” Hardash said, “hopefully we’ll all feel safer and more secure.”