NEW JERSEY INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: SAFE & SECURE STUDY TIME
On the bustling campus of the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) in Newark, the Robert W. Van Houten Library is a cornerstone of the education and learning process for its 10,600-strong student population.
The Van Houten Library strives to remain at the forefront of education technology. The facility offers a host of electronic and print resources, including a core collection of academic books, databases, and journals, as well as research and consultation services. These resources primarily support the instructional and research needs of the NJIT students, faculty and staff, but they are also available for use by the broader public.
Because the library is a popular destination for students and study groups who need a quiet place to work, one can often see laptops, tablets, smartphones and other personal belongings in use about the building at any given time. However, over the course of the 2014 calendar year, a rash of student property theft in the library broke out, alerting school officials and the NJIT Department of Public Safety of the need to evaluate these incidents and other potential security challenges.
Robert Gjini, Director of Security Systems at NJIT, worked with the Department of Public Safety to explore video camera surveillance options. During this process, Gjini worked with a team from Panasonic to discuss video surveillance and learned about the new WV-ASF900 FacePro Facial Search and Recognition System. Gjini investigated the proposed solution further and the university agreed to take part in a pilot program to test the new system. The WV-ASF900 FacePro Facial Search and Recognition System and four 6 Series i-PRO cameras were installed in February 2015 and are now running on a dedicated server in the library, manned by in-house personnel.
FacePro is a server-based facial recognition and analytics platform that provides facial search and matching capabilities on real-time video streams from Panasonic’s i-PRO cameras. The FacePro system automatically performs high-speed searches using live or recorded source video or imported digital images to match against a database of up to 1,000 registered enrolled faces. Utilizing the advanced imaging capabilities of Panasonic’s Full HD 1080p i-PRO cameras, the system also provides advanced age and gender analytics which can be useful to track campus demographics.
In addition to live-camera face matching, FacePro features the ability to perform searches and display face matches from a database of historical captured faces. Face match results are displayed for each camera in the system in chronological order, enabling NJIT to quickly track a person of interest moving through the facility — including banned persons who might have had previous contact with campus security or even known offenders in the area.
Gjini said NJIT has been extremely pleased with the deterrent factor of the cameras, the accurate results from FacePro analytics, ease of use and superior support provided by Panasonic representatives during the pilot. Prior to deploying the system in early 2015, there were more than a dozen thefts reported – at least one per month. Since the installation, incidents are down to zero. In addition to successfully preventing potential acts of theft, the strategic positioning of cameras in noticeable areas of the entrance to and exits from the facility has been an ongoing deterrent, according to NJIT.
“We were assisted by Panasonic with the initial set up and implementation and quickly programmed some 70,000 student photo I.D.’s into the database as well as photos of more than 200 people who had been banned from campus and the library,” said Gjini. He added that the “not allowed” list is continually updated, with the Deputy Chief of Campus Police providing regularly updated information on persons who are not permitted on campus to ensure an up-to-date database.
Perhaps the most significant use of the FacePro system occurred when an incident in the library at nearby Rutgers University put the NJIT campus and Department of Public Safety on high alert. When library staff noticed someone visibly trying to hide their face from the cameras, “we went through the FacePro system and easily determined when that person had entered,” Gjini said. “He was purposely covering his face, but by doing that he made it known that something was awry. When we searched the system, we found that not only was he on the not-allowed list, but that he also had some open warrants.” When campus police were alerted, they apprehended the individual and discovered a weapon, but the situation was proactively diffused without incident.
The system implementation has also proven useful in non-criminal incidents: during midterm season, a student found himself locked in the library after falling asleep during a study session and set off the alarm when he attempted to leave. The FacePro system was able to provide a positive match of the time of arrival and exit of the student and appropriate action was taken.
Gjini, who is charged with overseeing security systems, photo identification and parking services at NJIT, works closely with campus police and the Department of Public Safety on making refinements to the system. There are some 78 officers on campus, split evenly between sworn police and public safety officers. The Public Safety Department also uses Panasonic ultra-rugged Toughbook laptops, three CF-31’s and one CF-30 as well as two Panasonic Toughpad G1 Tablets during patrol and security duties.
Gjini says other common areas of the university, such as the campus center and athletic areas, could definitely benefit from FacePro and may be considered in the near future. “To have the incidents of thefts drop so dramatically in such a short timeframe has been really huge for us,” he says. “The FacePro solution is clearly responsible and it’s been a nice collaborative effort between Panasonic and NJIT.”