The University will partner with private company Flock Safety to install license plate readers on campus, part of a larger effort to improve campus surveillance systems.
During a Sept. 28 Board of Trustees meeting, UNC Police Chief Brian James said the University is working toward consolidating campus camera systems for more streamlined access to footage following the Aug. 28 shooting.
The planned installation of 22 license plate recognition cameras will have an estimated cost of $80,000, UNC Media Relations said in an email statement.
Since its dissemination, the recognition software has been the subject of debates about surveillance and privacy. In 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union released a report raising concerns about automatic license plate recognition technology, specifically regarding the collection and storage of data.
“These huge databases of plate information are not subject to any data security or privacy regulations governing license plate reader data,” the report said. “These companies decide who can access license plate data and for what purposes.”
Data from Flock Safety devices is deleted after 30 days for privacy purposes, and is only available to law enforcement agencies, according to the company’s website. According to North Carolina law, data from license plate readers used by "a law enforcement agency for law enforcement purposes" shall not be preserved for more than 90 days unless an agency requests the information for an ongoing investigation.
All images and metadata are encrypted on Flock Safety's devices and in the cloud, the website said.
First-year student Samuel Scarborough said transparency from the University would make him feel more comfortable with the installation of license plate recognition cameras.
Scarborough said he wanted to see what kind of data is being collected about individuals and how that data is being managed and also emphasized the complex history regarding the use of surveillance technology in the United States.