Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the goals of this project and the benefits of undertaking it?
A: The primary goal of this project is to use available technology to strengthen and enhance the university’s ability to provide a safe and secure environment, protecting its students, faculty, staff and infrastructure.

Campus quality of life will be enhanced by adding current best practices in the safety, security and technology field into the university’s comprehensive public safety program.

Q: What is being done to maintain an open environment and ensure the protection of privacy during the development and implementation of video security on campus?
A: The Department of Public and Environmental Safety (DPES) has developed a comprehensive policy to govern the installation and use of video security on campus. The policy ensures careful implementation and oversight of a video security program that respects and maintains an open environment that is conducive to creative thought and freedom of expression, and protects individual privacy, while providing its intended level of safety and security. Development of this policy and the subsequent implementation of a video security program required extensive thought, planning, and community engagement, which DPES worked to provide through an open and transparent policy development process. The policy development process engaged Tufts University leadership, faculty, staff and students to ensure all stakeholder concerns were addressed.

Q: What percentage of US colleges and universities now employ video security as a component of a professional security program designed to prevent crime and effectively investigate crime when it does occur?
A: DPES and TSG Solutions, a global security consulting firm and the university’s chosen partner for this project, reviewed our peer institution’s video security policies as a reference in developing Tufts’ policy.

Research conducted as part of a 2008 study by the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) and eight other higher education professional organizations found that 81 percent of private institutions have video security systems installed and in use. Of the 81 percent of private institutions with video security systems in use, 75 percent of private institutions have video security installed in exterior locations.

Q: Who will view/have access to video images and how will they be trained?
A: The policy governs the use of video security on campus and addresses who will have access to video images as well and mandates training for those individuals. No person outside DPES shall be permitted to review recorded video without the express authorization of the Director of Public and Environmental Safety or his designee. Video security system operators shall be trained in the technical, legal, and ethical parameters of appropriate video security use.

Q: What types of images will not be video recorded?
A: The policy addresses specific image recording and use. By law, video images will not be recorded in areas where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy such as individual bedrooms, bathrooms and locker rooms. The policy development process engaged Tufts University leadership, faculty, staff and students to ensure that stakeholder concerns were addressed.

Q: How will you engage faculty, staff and students?
A: The project team has held a series of meetings with the President’s senior staff, Academic Counsel, and campus leadership from Boston, Grafton, and Medford/Somerville.

A series of community meetings were held on each campus. The goals, objectives and process of the project were presented to faculty, staff and students. Feedback was solicited through a question and answer period.

A section of the DPES web page was created, dedicated to soliciting community input. Titled “Video Security” community members can provide feedback, advice and ask questions – anonymously if that was their choice.

Feedback and suggestions were incorporated into the draft policy.

Q: Where will video security cameras be installed?
A: An installation plan is being developed, based on a risk assessment that DPES and TSG has conducted. The risk assessment takes into account factors such as facility occupancy and use; the likelihood that criminals are attracted to a facility and/or the occupants based on facility contents and/or the work being conducted by occupants; hazardous materials stored within a facility; and the need to control access, etc. In general, is it likely that installation of video security will include exterior spaces, the perimeters of major facilities, and the entranceways and/or lobbies of those facilities.

Q: To what extent will cameras be used off campus, on city property for example?
A: In the event that the risk assessment determines that video security cameras would reduce risk to the university by installing cameras on public property, the university would seek approval from city/town officials before installation.

Q: Will camera installation be considered in outdoor, open spaces as well?
A: It will depend on the results of the risk assessment. But generally, it is anticipated that some video security will be recommended for some publically accessible outdoor open spaces to reduce risk. When a determination is made about camera placement, each camera’s mission is determined as well as the appropriate placement based on its risk reduction function.

Q: Does the University currently have video security on campus? Has it been effective?
A: Limited video security is currently in use on Tufts campuses in Boston, Grafton and Medford/Somerville. These systems have been effective in reducing and solving crime and monitoring research. In some instances, the video systems have resulted in prosecution of offenders and restitution of losses to victims of crime.

Q: What does the policy say in regard to using video security for human resources issues, such as employees arriving late and/or leaving work early?
A: The primary purpose of video security on campus is related to law enforcement and crime prevention. The systems are not designed and should not be relied upon to replace the management function of departments or schools.

Q: Will other law enforcement agencies be able to request video as part of an investigation?
A: Requests from other law enforcement agencies for video security images will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by DPES leadership in consultation with university legal counsel.

Q: Will audio (people’s voices) be recorded along with video images?
A: In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts it is unlawful to record audio without providing notice; therefore audio will not be recorded as part of the video security system.

Q: Will cameras be used in place of officer patrols?
A: Video security will not replace police presence.

Q: Will cameras be used to track people on campus?
A: Unless it is part of an on-going criminal investigation, the use of video security equipment to track people on campus is prohibited.

Q: Will cameras with operational purposes (research, etc.) be part of this system?
A: Cameras used for operational purposes will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Funding may also drive inclusion in the system.

Q: Will cameras be installed in break room areas?
A: As a matter of general practice, cameras will not be installed in areas such as break rooms. However, if there is an identified law enforcement or security need, DPES reserves the right to install video security cameras where appropriate.

Q: Who was involved in the policy development process and who schedules reviews of the policy?
A: The policy development process engaged Tufts University leadership, faculty, staff and students to ensure that stakeholder concerns were addressed. DPES is responsible for the required annual review of the policy.

Q: What drove this effort?
A: After joining Tufts University DPES in 2011, the Director and his senior staff reviewed existing policies and procedural use of video security on all campuses. It was determined through that review that a more robust university-wide video security policy was needed and it was apparent that a risk assessment and risk reduction strategy was needed in order to prevent crime and to respond effectively to it when it does occurs. We seek to proactively address the lack of policy governing use and installation of video security before the absence of such systems has adverse impacts on the community.

Q: What is the timeline for this project?
A: A final draft policy was reviewed by University leadership and has been completed; a conceptual design and budget was completed by fall, 2013.

Q: Will there be cameras installed inside buildings as well as outside?
A: Camera placement will be driven by risk reduction, which may include placement inside buildings.

Q: How long will video be archived (saved)?
A: Video will be retained for a maximum of 30 days, unless a longer retention time is warranted based on investigative need.

Q: Will video be monitored live?
A: In general, video will be used for investigations after an incident. Video analytics will be used in some cases to provide situational awareness and electronic notification to the DPES Communications Center staff of unusual activity indicative of crime.

Q: Who reviews and updates the policy?
A: DPES is required to review and update the policy annually.

Q: How will camera installations be funded?
A: A multi-year implementation plan and budget has been developed based on identified priorities. Funding will be determined on a campus – by – campus basis.

When providing your input, we ask that you complete the form below. Please know that the information provided by you is strictly anonymous. Your name and email address are optional. If you provide your name and email address, we’ll use it only to communicate with you. Your name and email address will not be used or stored for any other purpose.

Your message will be received by University Police Deputy Chief Linda O’Brien.