Always Watching: Penn State Beefing Up Surveillance With 71 New Cameras In Public Areas Downtown

Always watching: State College beefing up surveillance with 71 new cameras in public areas downtown

Penn State students Chelsea Billotte, Amy Haun, and Fye Poon stood at the corner of East Calder Way and McAllister Alley, awaiting their drinks at the storefront of Tea Time. What the young women did not realize was that about 15 feet away, a camera looked down on the intersection, documenting their quick refreshment stop. The three were surprised when the camera was brought to their attention, yet they seemed to appreciate its presence.

“I like it actually,” Haun said. “I have thought when I’m back here, ‘What if something happens? Who would know?’ And now that I see that, I feel a little better.”

The camera is one of three downtown units operated by State College since 2003. Now the borough is expanding its public and internal surveillance systems, installing 71 new cameras in the municipal building, in parking garages, and in selected downtown areas.

The Borough Council approved a $450,000 contract to expand the downtown video surveillance system in October. With the additions, the system will go from wired to wireless. The contract is with CelPlan Technologies Inc., of Reston, Va.

Were the students being watched as they purchased their tea? According to Borough Manager Tom Fountaine, no.

“There was a period where we ran a pilot project to do live monitoring, and what we found is that we did not see a substantial benefit,” Fountaine said. “I can’t remember the last time we did a live-monitor event.” The cameras are used to help solve crimes, rather than prevent them. […]