‘Campus Cam’ offers birds-eye view

Prospective students and visitors to the University can get a preview of the campus’ real-time ambiance thanks to a new Web site from Institutional Relations.
The Campus Cam, which peers out of a window from an office in Coffman Union, transmits a continuous, live video image of Northrop Mall to the University Web site. Visitors can see vehicles streaming down Washington Avenue and students milling about on the Mall and at the bus stops. It also shows the sky, so visitors can know what the weather is like on campus at any time.
The camera was created with prospective students in mind.
“Other schools have done it,” said Tony Mommsen, Web designer for Institutional Relations. “We figured it was a good way to share the center of activity of our campus.”
The setup, which was provided by Institutional Relations, uses a regular video camera that shoots daytime images. Using a software program called Sitecam to run a continuous movie, Campus Cam is hooked up to Ethernet, which is capable of transmitting the image every one to two seconds. The site also features a 24-hour loop, saved every five minutes, so visitors can view yesterday’s movie of Northrop Mall.
“It’s a simple and old computer,” said Joshua Spotts, Web designer for Institutional Relations and journalism sophomore. “But it’s running some pretty cool stuff.”
Older modems can transmit the image approximately every 10 seconds, Spotts said.
The Campus Cam’s creation was a collaborative effort between the Campus Club, the Alumni Association and UNITE Instructional Television, a part of the Institute of Technology.

— Will Conley