High-tech camera removed

An innovative camera that broadcast high-quality images of a UCSD construction site over the Internet has been taken offline amid concerns that it could allow users to peer into the windows of campus apartments.

Anyone with Internet access could go to a page within the Jacobs School of Engineering’s Web site and control the camera using buttons on the page. The camera was intended to promote the construction of the new California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology building — also known as Cal-(IT)2 — located east of the current main engineering building.

The camera was quickly taken offline last week after members of Warren administration notified the camera’s owners of its unforeseen capabilities.

“”When we realized there were privacy concerns, we took the camera offline,”” said Greg Hidley, director of engineering computing at the Jacobs School and head of technology infrastructure for Cal-(IT)2.

The Warren college administration asked the camera operators to adjust the viewing capabilities of the camera to protect students’ privacy.

Hidley said the camera had to be taken completely offline because an adjustment “”does not seem to be an option.””

“”[The Web site] was not completed but unfortunately its availability reached the public before we could take other measures to protect access and provide additional controls to limit its use on the building site,”” Hidley said.

Some residents of Earl Warren College whose apartments are located within the camera’s range are concerned that the camera may allow others to invade their privacy via the Internet.

“”I believe that the camera is an invasion into an area where most people expect to have privacy,”” said Jesse Coward, chair of the Warren College Council.

Jason Boyer, a Warren sophomore, also lives in an apartment within viewing range of the camera.

“”I don’t really take offense to this because I doubt someone set up the camera to look specifically into the apartments,”” Boyer said. “”I guess you could say it was a case of good intentions.””

The future of the camera is unclear due to the concern for residents’ privacy.

Some Warren students expressed mixed feelings regarding the camera and its innovative interactive technology and ability to broadcast live images of their apartments over the World Wide Web.

“”I think the camera itself is really cool,”” Wood said. “”But I don’t think this is the right place to do it — where people live.””

Warren sophomore Eric Leebo’s apartment could be seen on the Web. Although he said it was an intrusion into his privacy, he said he liked the camera.

“”It’s interesting; you can look at it and control it but I don’t think the purpose should be so people can go around and look at everything,”” he said.

Hidley said the purpose of the experimental camera and Web site was to demonstrate how existing technologies could be used in interesting ways.

Some Warren residents, including Leebo and Boyer, said they would like to see a similar camera modified so that it could not zoom in on students’ apartments or to see one placed in a more public space, such as on top of the Price Center or Geisel Library.

Hidley said that is not in the plans because residences could still be seen from those sites and that modifying the camera’s range is not currently an option.

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