Panasonic’s “Peekaboo” Cameras Offer Security While Protecting Privacy
Panasonic System Networks Co. of America introduced several new products at ASIS 2011, including PTZ cameras with privacy-protecting "eyelids," or as Bill Taylor, president of Panasonic System Networks Co. of America, likes to call them, "peekaboo" cameras.
These eyelids open only when activated by a teacher, guaranteeing student and teacher privacy except during an emergency. With the eyelid design, there's no mistaking when the camera is in sleep or privacy mode and when it's activated.
A teacher can discreetly activate the system by pressing a panic button on the Panasonic pendant microphone, which is also used for classroom audio. Once the camera's eyelids are open, emergency responders and authorities can see into the classroom to identify what kind of help to send, whether a SWAT team for a shooter or the paramedics for a health concern.
Two Port Washington, N.Y., schools have installed this system in its classrooms. When the system is activated, police can access the live video instantly on their smartphones, at the headquarters and in squad cars. If there is a shooter, they can see him or her as well as track their movement in the school. Providing all the officers with the same information is a critical component to an efficient response. The school district hopes to roll out the system district-wide in the near future.
While everyone involved -- parents, teachers, students, administration and police -- hope they'll never have to use the system, the fact that it's in place readies them for all emergency situations.
Sherleen Mahoney is a Web managing editor at 1105 Media.