Beginning this summer, Stanford will install security cameras at several residential buildings and a parking garage on campus as part of a multi-year expansion of the university’s existing video safety and security systems.

Cameras will be primarily at building entrances and in other areas where a security assessment has identified a risk to safety or property, for example, theft or trespassing. However, they will not be installed where there is an expectation of privacy, such as in living spaces, restrooms, dining areas, or residential lounges.

“One of the first questions officers are asked by crime victims is about the existence of video cameras,” said Chief and Director of Public Safety Laura Wilson. “In addition to the potential crime deterrence impact cameras can have, the Department of Public Safety anticipates being able to use footage from video cameras to investigate and solve crimes committed against those who live, work, and visit Stanford.”

Buildings in the upcoming expansion will include the Wilbur Parking Garage, Hulme Highrise, Stern Hall, Wilbur Hall, 585 Cowell Lane, Roble Hall, Munger Graduate Residence, and Lyman Graduate Residences.

Stanford already has hundreds of cameras installed across campus, including at the Escondido Village Graduate Residences. The buildings selected for the first phase of the installation expansion were chosen because they represent various residence styles and construction materials and are home to graduate and undergraduate students. Future project phases will cover more residences, ultimately leading to cameras outside all student residences.

“Our campus is not only a place where students learn but also where they live, socialize, and recreate,” said Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole. “With that comes a higher level of responsibility to keep our students and their belongings secure while creating a safe and welcoming community.”

In advance of the expansion, a working group involving the Department of Public Safety, University IT, Vice Provost for Student Affairs, Residential & Dining Enterprises, and others created and approved a series of Video Safety and Security Systems (VSSS) standards that will guide the deployment and management of the existing and expanding security system. The standards, available on the University IT Video Safety and Security Systems website, will be discussed further at a Faculty Senate meeting this afternoon.

As with the current security system on campus, the additional cameras will not be routinely monitored in real time and the university will not use any facial recognition software.

The VSSS standards outline where the cameras may be placed, who has access to the footage, and how the system aligns with Stanford’s commitment to protecting privacy. The standards also define what will happen if the university is required to provide video footage to an outside agency for an investigation.

“We recognize that security cameras play a significant role in maintaining safety and security on campus but can sometimes raise concerns around individual expectations and rights to privacy,” said Raina Rose Tagle, senior associate vice president and chief risk officer. “The cameras will be placed strategically, and the VSSS guiding principles have been designed to provide for individual privacy. For example, the VSSS standards specify that Stanford does not use facial recognition on video footage collected under these standards.”

Over the course of the spring quarter, members of the VSSS working group will hold in-person informational meetings with students and Resident Fellows of the phase one houses to answer questions about the system’s implementation. In the coming months, students living in the phase one residences may see project crews on site taking measurements. However, installation of the new cameras won’t begin until late June to avoid disruption during the academic year.

To learn more about the project scope and to see answers to Frequently Asked Questions, visit the University IT Video Safety and Security Systems website.