CCTV Cameras on Surrey Campus Still Not Operational

Privacy Impact Assessment process must be completed before footage can be captured

One of several CCTV cameras installed on KPU’s Surrey campus in Oct. 2016. As of yet there is no timeline for when the cameras will become operational. (Tommy Nguyen)

CCTV security cameras on the Surrey campus—despite having been installed in October of last year—are not yet operational.

“We’re currently in the Privacy Impact Assessment process, and when that’s completed we can have the cameras be operational, but not until then,” says Kwantlen Polytechnic University Chief Safety Officer Phil Goulet.

As written on the Government of B.C.’s website, a Privacy Impact Assessment “is a process used to evaluate and manage privacy impacts and to ensure compliance with privacy protection rules and responsibilities.”

According to Goulet, this is an important step in ensuring that the privacy of KPU community members is upheld.

“We found out that we had to do the Privacy Impact Assessment after we had started with the installation of the cameras, so that’s why they haven’t been operational,” says Tatiana Tomljanovic, a Kwantlen Polytechnic University media specialist. “I’m not sure exactly at what point we missed a step, but as soon as we found out we need to do a Privacy Impact Assessment we put a halt on it and proceeded with that.”

The addition of CCTV cameras on the Surrey campus was part of an enhanced safety initiative set out to make KPU a safer place for staff and students.

On June 22, students were sent an email regarding an incident that took place on June 21 in the Surrey campus parking lot, where a man exposed himself to an employee after asking for directions. While operational cameras could have aided in apprehending the perpetrator, the woman was able to provide “an excellent description of the car, including make, model, and license plate number, as well as a description of the man.”

When the installation of the cameras began in October, no timeline was announced for when they would become operational, but KPU Vice President Finance and Administration Jon Harding stressed that they will not be activated until the administration is satisfied with the setup requirements.

“As soon as we are done with that assessment process, that’s when we’re going to make those cameras operational,” says Tomljanovic.

Operation of the cameras will commence once all protocols, including the PIA, have met proper standards. An exact timeline for when these requirements will be met has still not been provided.

In a follow-up email, Tomljanovic indicated that the “operation of the cameras is dependent on a number of things, including training, privacy assessment and activation protocols, all of which are in the process.”

Setting up the cameras prior to having the necessary PIA completed may have had to do with the funding of the equipment, which was provided by the B.C. government.

“We got special funding to do the cameras [and] I don’t think that that had an infinite timeline on when that funding would be available,” says Goulet.

“Cameras were installed in accordance with funding guidelines,” Tomljanovic wrote in her email. “Funding sources were from the Ministry of Advanced Education and KPU.”

While the cameras may not be operational yet, the KPU website offers a variety of safety tips for community members to draw from, including information about the Safe Walk campus security program—a service that offers a KPU security guard to accompany you to or from your car if you ask for it.

Goulet also shared the news of an app called KPU Safe that is currently in the works to create a safer KPU community.