February 28, 2007

Cam Surveys Commons 24/7

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On any average day at Cornell, chances are you are being videotaped. Whether you are walking through the Engineering Quad, waiting for a bus in front of the Statler or walking through Ho Plaza, there are cameras set up to give live streaming feeds to the Cornell website. On Jan. 12 this coverage expanded with the addition of a camera set up in the middle of the Commons.

The Commons Cam is the brainchild of Ancient Wisdom Productions President and Creative Director Christopher DelCollo.

“The idea came from the inspiring view that we have here. … We thought we had a really nice view of the Commons and we wanted to be able to share that with the public,” DelCollo said.

The cam, which looks down on the Commons from a third-floor window in the Bank of America building, provides a live 24-hour feed that is refreshed every 15 seconds.

Since its inception a month and a half ago, the camera has become an im-mediate hit both locally and on a global level — website visitors hail from countries as far away as Finland, South America, South Africa and New Zealand. A large amount of website hits do actually come from Finland.

“Right now, we are getting over a thousand visits a week to the cam,” DelCollo said.

Although certainly good for promotion, advertising is not the driving force behind this idea. The cam has garnered a significant amount of attention for Ancient Wisdom Productions, but DelCollo hopes that this will translate into more interest and appreciation of the Commons.

“I really think that it would be a shame to knock the Commons down and pave it over,” DelCollo said. “It’s a really great environment to work in, and we love the atmosphere.”

The cam has been linked free of charge with the website of the Ithaca Downtown Partnership, an organization that tries to promote community interest and participation in downtown activities.

“This provided a really nice symbiotic relationship,” DelCollo said. “They get to help promote downtown Ithaca, and since we host the Commons Cam, people get to find out about us.”

With the help of the Commons Cam, the Ithaca Downtown Partnership website has gotten an unprecedented amount of attention. During the 9th-annual Chili Cook-off and WinterFest, the website got a record-breaking number of visitors.

“The webcam got a little over 700 views, and our website got 3,300 page views and 40,000 hits,” pointed out Stephanie Vann, the marketing director of the Ithaca Downtown Partnership.

On average the website has 400 visitors a day.

Overall, DelCollo and Vann are pleased with the success. Ithacans want even more cameras set up around downtown Ithaca. Both DelCollo and Vann are excited about the possibility of more cameras around Ithaca.

Emma Marshak ’10 was surprised to hear of a camera down on the Commons. She was also skeptical about how much of an impact it would have on her.

“Next time there was a festival, maybe I’d look to it … but I’d probably just forget,” Marshak said.

The live streaming from the Commons Cam can be viewed at http://www.ancientwisdompro.com/webcam.