Volume 92, Issue 46

Wednesday, November 25, 1998



Browsing the action on the Concrete Beach

By Becky Somerville
Gazette Staff

The entire world may have been watching unsuspecting students on the Concrete Beach since last November – well at least those people who have access to the internet.

Ralph Baddour, a fourth-year electrical engineering student at Western, connected a camera to his computer last year to obtain grey scale images of Western's popular concrete hangout.

From his sixth floor office on the south side of the Social Science Centre, Baddour decided to put some unused equipment to work and created the Concrete Beach Cam which updates images on the internet every 30 seconds.

"I had the camera for a while and there are other live cameras on the web around the world. It seemed like a fun idea," Baddour said.

He added since the resolution in the camera is low it is difficult to pick up details, however he plans to upgrade to a colour digital camera if funding allows.

Since the equipment was available, the CBC cost nothing to operate, Baddour said. "We're looking into upgrading it," he added.

Baddour said he received the visual images on a monitor in his office and although the camera was installed solely for interest, he kept statistics of how many people visited the CBC web site.

"It's for fun basically. Not every university has a Concrete Beach," Baddour said. He added although the camera could distinguish large events as well as the change in seasons, it was unable to pick up detailed images of people.

Geoff Pimlatt, a computer systems administrator for the University Students' Council, said the technology for this kind of project has been in existence for a while and can be initiated by just about anyone. "You can buy a cheap black and white camera for about $100," he said.

Pimlatt said one of the problems of the beach cam is the images are often very small and grainy.

Although he had no knowledge of the CBC, Mark Beker, a first-year science student, thought it seemed like a good idea which would bring some publicity to Western.

"If you're doing something that you don't want people to see I would suggest that Concrete Beach is not the place for it," he said.

Sean Dukelow, a PhD student who helped Baddour set up the camera, said the web site has received much attention with 2,000 to 3,000 people seeing it every month.

"You get a pretty good view of Concrete Beach from the Social Science Centre so we thought we'd share it with everyone else," Dukelow said. "We thought it would be neat to have [a camera] on Western's campus."

All of the money for the project comes out of their pockets, Dukelow added.

Pimlatt said anyone interested in checking out the CBC can see it from the USC's home page.

To Contact The News Department: gazette.news@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998