You don’t need a camera for dorm room security. Here’s what to do instead

Nobody really thinks about bedroom safety until something bad happens. It’s an unfortunate reality, but like anything else, preventative measures can prevent potential threats from becoming all too real. When it comes to dorm room safety, there are several things students can do to protect themselves.

In 2018, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported that thefts accounted for 34% of all criminal incidents against people and property on campus. It is a reminder to both parents and students that dorm room safety should be a priority. While the automatic response would be to install some sort of security camera inside the bedroom, it’s a much more complicated matter than you might think.

Can you have cameras in the bedrooms?

This is a tricky topic given the privacy concerns, but it basically follows the same rules as installing a home security camera. Some college campuses have security cameras installed in various areas around dormitories, such as entrances and other common areas. These cameras are usually manned and operated by security personnel or are only there for continuous recording.

It is another matter within the dormitory where the students sleep, if we focus on this particular situation. Cameras are in almost everything we have. From our smartphones to our laptops, it’s honestly very hard to find a situation where a camera isn’t present these days. Individual schools may have their own rules about placing security cameras inside student rooms, but if you’re sharing a room with someone, you should probably have their express consent.

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There have already been countless crimes by people using hidden cameras in bedrooms to record activities, some serious enough to bring invasion of privacy charges. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 prohibits the interception of audio communications without consent. However, it does not deal with the act of video recording without the element of audio recording.

Discreet ways to secure rooms in the home

Cameras are often considered intrusive devices given how nefarious they can be used, but dorm residents still have other solutions that could alleviate concerns about potential crime. Today, there are many smart home devices that offer peace of mind and respect privacy while offering instant insight into what’s going on when you’re not around. Best of all, these solutions are easy on any budget.

door sensors

Alarm bell (2nd generation) Door sensor on the doorJohn Velasco / Digital Trends

One of the easiest and most discreet ways to secure a bedroom is to use door sensors that can notify users whenever they are triggered or activated. Window sensors work the same way, but are specially placed on windows to activate each time they are opened or closed.

Most DIY security systems often come with kits that include them, but there are others that can be used without a complete system. For example, the Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) acts as a Zigbee hub, allowing users to easily connect Zigbee-compatible door sensors.

Motion sensors

Aura motion sensor included in the plinth.

Another discreet option is to use a motion sensor in the student room that can definitively identify whether or not there has been movement. Thresholds can be set to eliminate false alarms that can be triggered by movement of small appliances, such as a pedestal fan or a pet. For larger bedrooms that may include separate rooms, installing motion sensors can help recognize motion detection in specific rooms.

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smart speakers

Amazon Echo Dot placed on the side table.

Interestingly, dorm dwellers can use smart speakers to monitor their space when they’re not around. Services like Nest Aware for Google Assistant-compatible smart speakers and Alexa Guard for Echo devices can track sounds like smoke detector sirens or breaking glass. There’s a slightly more advanced option, Alexa Guard Plus, which covers the higher subscription price but does more by playing sounds on your speaker to fend off intruders, as well as gain access to emergency services.

Since this is a device with an active microphone, it’s a good idea to ask roommates or other people living in the house for their consent to use it.

Better safe than sorry

Nobody likes that Big Brother feeling, which is probably why there’s a reluctance to install security cameras in bedrooms. These unobtrusive options can at least offer a sense of awareness of what’s going on when you’re not there. By using mobile apps that are connected to the services on these devices, household residents can know what’s going on when they’re not around, without compromising the privacy of others.

Hex Home Wi-Fi Motion Sensor plugged in.

There are newer technologies that continue to emerge, offering more discreet and unobtrusive ways to monitor the home. The Hex Home system, for example, are sensors that can be placed in rooms to monitor movement by measuring interference in Wi-Fi signals. It’s an intriguing new way to find out who’s there or not, but it comes at a higher price than some traditional motion sensors. However, the development of these unique technologies shows us that there are ways to keep student rooms secure without compromising privacy.

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