After spring break, students will be able to view the length of the line at the Lee Snack Bar through a camera that feeds into an application on the Williams Students Online (WSO) Web site. The camera was proposed to College Council (CC) through WSO last spring and is receiving financial support from CC’s “Great Ideas” campaign.
According to David Moore ’10, president of WSO, the camera image will be accessible via an Internet connection anywhere on campus. “If you’re in Tyler at 12:30 a.m., it’s freezing outside and you want to know whether it’s worth it to head over to Snack Bar to try to get food before it closes, this will help you figure that out,” Moore said. The camera will be active only during the Snack Bar’s evening hours, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Moore noted privacy was a central concern during the planning process. “We don’t want this to be a Big Brother controversy where people feel as though they’re being spied on,” Moore said. To increase privacy, the camera will not provide live-streaming video. Instead, the image shown on a special section of WSO will be updated in intervals of 10 seconds.
After CC and the College administration reviewed the proposal, the project underwent revision to include additional restrictions for the purpose of discretion. Moore explained that the camera images will only be available on campus and that WSO will not retain any record of past images.
In addition, the images will be blurred so that viewers will not be able to discern faces in the line. “It’s still easy to see how long the line is from the blurred picture, [however], so this doesn’t compromise the functionality of the camera,” Moore said.
Students are currently working on installation details with the Office of Campus Life.