HEBER SPRINGS — Students, staff and faculty at Arkansas State University-Heber Springs will soon be under the watchful eye of a new surveillance system, thanks to money allocated from the state’s General Improvement Fund.
The school received $150,000 on Jan. 29 to purchase a video surveillance system and to update and replace technology on campus that is outdated.
Robbie Cooper, police-officer supervisor at ASU-Heber Springs, said the new surveillance system will make the campus much safer.
“It’s going to increase security around campus and increase surveillance on parking lots and campus buildings,” Cooper said. “This will be a very good asset.”
Cooper said there isn’t much criminal activity on campus currently, but the new system will help continue that record and be a deterrent for any potential activity.
“We’ll definitely feel safer on campus. I’ve had some nice comments about it so far from students, faculty and staff,” he said. “This is going to be a big upgrade as far as surveillance and security. This will record anything that could happen.”
ASU-Heber Springs Vice Chancellor Chris Boyett said he’s excited about the improvements the campus will make with the allocation of $150,000.
“We can never predict what can happen, and this is another tool we will have [in case of an emergency],” Boyett said.
The video system will have the ability to read license-plate numbers in the parking lots on campus and to identify individuals if needed.
“All of our officers are excited,” Cooper said.
Though there are no dorms on campus or weekend or night classes, in addition to Cooper, there are three other officers who man the campus security office while classes are in session.
“Somebody is here all the time with the students, and I’m grateful for that,” Cooper said. “Our presence helps. We haven’t had any major crimes [at ASU-Heber Springs].”
There isn’t an exact number on how many cameras will be put into place on campus, but Cooper said all areas will be well covered.
“We’ll be able to monitor all of those from one office inside the campus,” he said. “We’ve never had cameras before. We have alarms and things of that nature, but no video surveillance.”
ASU-Heber Springs, which opened in the summer of 2007, is a satellite campus of ASU-Beebe.
In addition to the surveillance system, changes will be made to the computer systems on campus to update them for students.
Chris Lee, chief information officer for ASU-Beebe, said these updates will be different from traditional desktops. A Virtual Desktop Interface, or VDI, will be put into place.
“VDI will create a virtual interface that’s [the student’s]. They can open up Microsoft Word, check Facebook and lock it there and go to a different machine, and the student is able to continue their work,” Lee said.
With the VDI system, students won’t have to back up their work to a USB drive or a website such as Dropbox.
“This is a substantial investment, but it’s so good for the students in the long run,” Lee said.
Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.