7.11 Video Surveillance

Purpose and Scope

The University of Northern Iowa is committed to protecting the safety and property of the University community while respecting the privacy rights of our faculty, staff, students, and visitors.  Cameras provide a visual deterrent to crime, assist with overall security measures, and increase the potential identification and apprehension of person(s) who breach University policies and/or commit criminal acts.  The use of security cameras extends the ability of the UNI Police Division when officers are not immediately available. Cameras are not a guarantee of safety; however, they do serve as deterrents and can alert police to potential danger.  The primary use of surveillance cameras is to record images for future identification of individuals and activity in the event of violations of law or policy.. 

This policy regulates the use of surveillance cameras to protect the legal and privacy interests of the University of Northern Iowa and the University community.  This policy applies to all University of Northern Iowa persons and organizations in the use of surveillance systems and devices for monitoring and/or recording activity.

This policy does not apply to the use of video for non-surveillance purposes, examples include:

  1. The academic use of cameras for educational purposes.
  2. Cameras used for research purposes, which are subject to appropriate Institutional Review Board policies regarding human subjects.
  3. Cameras used for journalistic purposes.
  4. Cameras used for capturing public events and performances.
  5. Construction web cameras.
  6. Cameras installed or used for criminal investigations, which are subject to appropriate Iowa and Federal laws.
  7. Webcams used for purposes of communication between specific persons

Policy Statement

The University of Northern Iowa reserves the right to place video surveillance cameras on campus where necessary and appropriate.  The University of Northern Iowa respects the right to privacy of the university community members and balances the right to privacy versus the safety needs of the campus community.


  1. Access and Use
    1. Only authorized personnel, as determined by this policy and authorized by the Vice President for Administration and Financial Services or designee, will be involved in, or have access to surveillance camera data.
    2. The use of dummy or placebo cameras is prohibited.
    3. University Police will have access to all surveillance camera data from the Department of Public Safety office location.
    4. When an incident is suspected to have occurred, only authorized personnel may review the images from surveillance camera data.
    5. Only the Director of Public Safety or his/her designee may authorize copies of surveillance images.
    6. All requests to release of surveillance records must be authorized by the University Counsel and the Director of Public Safety.
    7. In general, the University will not permit either the installation or use of cameras as a tool to monitor routine performance or management issues involving University personnel or the use of personal “webcam” or similar technology for surveillance purposes. Employees of any department with surveillance cameras shall be notified of such installation.
    8. The recording of audio for surveillance purposes is prohibited.
    9. Video monitoring will be conducted only in areas where the public does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
    10. Video surveillance cameras shall not be specifically directed or zoomed into windows of any residential building, including residence halls.  Electronic shielding or other methods will be used to ensure cameras do not have the ability to look into windows.
    11. In consultation with University Counsel and AF Technology Services staff, video surveillance implementations and policy exceptions will be reviewed by the Director of Public Safety on an annual basis.
  2. Data and Access Log Storage
    1. Recorded camera images will be retained for at least 30 days or more.  Therefore, all purchased devices must be capable of retaining media for at least this period of time.
    2. A log documenting access to and use of data stored in the University’s centralized surveillance system will be maintained for a period of 12 months.
  3. Device Procurement, Installation, and Maintenance
    1. The installation of new surveillance cameras, their locations, and purpose must be approved in advance by the Directory of Public Safety.  A request for surveillance camera installation must be submitted and approved prior to the purchase of equipment.  This form can be found online at: https://publicsafety.uni.edu/uni-surveillance-camera-request-form
    2. Surveillance cameras must connect to the University’s centralized surveillance system in Public Safety, in accordance with University product, installation, maintenance, and support standards.
    3. All costs associated with the purchase, installation, and maintenance of the system will be the responsibility of the requesting department.
    4. All existing surveillance cameras must be connected to the University’s centralized system by September 1, 2012, or risk removal of equipment.  Requests for exemption should be submitted to and will be considered by the Director of Public Safety.
    5. All authorized cameras and systems will be inspected annually to ensure that they are in proper working condition and meet policy guidelines.

Department of Public Safety, approved September 26, 2011
President’s Cabinet, approved March 19, 2012       
[Last reviewed and/or updated 8/27/2015]