Letter to the editor: Students should be aware of cameras on campus

Christian Lien

Recently I found two camera systems linked to the ELO Online Testing Center website so students can check the length of lines at the two testing centers (Gilman and Carver). I thought this was cool, so I ended up exploring the entire iastate.edu site for other webcams. I found two of interest: Memorial Union and West Lawn (Parks Library). 

Many students might have seen these cameras upon the roofs of the respective buildings without fully understanding what they could do.

I soon found out that anyone with access to the internet could control these cameras, panning around and even zooming in with automatic focus. I thought that these were really cool to play with; as the user controls the cameras from a computer.

However, I realized that I never knew what these cameras could do before.

How it works is that the online user gets placed in a queue to run the camera. When it is their turn, the user gets two minutes to run the camera as they choose. When their time is up the next person in line gets two minutes as well (but other people may still view the live feed as another user operates the camera).

It was during my off time when I watched the next user zoom in on a girl standing at a bus stop by the Memorial Union Fountains. The user focused the camera on her for about 30 seconds, and I soon realized that this girl had no idea she was being watched.

Though these cameras can only view the public (and what people do in front of them would already be in public) I do believe that students should know about these two cameras as they can be publicly accessed and used by any internet user. Like I said: What you do in front of them is already in public, but it is still odd knowing someone could be watching. Just be aware of the two cameras.