New Student Housing Going Up "Live" On The Web

By Mara McGinnis

Release Date: November 19, 1998 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Construction of new apartment-style housing for undergraduate students at the University at Buffalo is becoming a world-wide event, thanks to a new live Webcam that captures -- and displays online -- up-to-the-second progress on the housing site from a window of a nearby academic building.

Anyone, anywhere with Internet access can monitor the progress of construction of the townhouse-style apartments by visiting the UB Webcam Web site, at http://webcam.buffalo.eduThe 624-bed complex on UB's North Campus is scheduled for Fall 1999 occupancy.

Unlike most other Webcams, UB's displays up-to-the-second live images and allows visitors to navigate the cam using their computer mouse.

"The reason we chose this particular software to run the cam was because it gives viewers the chance to control the camera and is almost true-to-life with a new frame every .6 seconds," explained William B. Wieners Jr., UB Web Team design architect.

The unique software package utilized by the Webcam allows one visitor at a time to control the camera and to "look" in eight different directions, pan 180 degrees, tilt approximately 70 degrees and zoom --- all from the comfort of their own computer.

Visitors are allowed two minutes to navigate the Webcam using their mouse and then the viewer who is next in line is prompted to take over. Others visiting the site at the same time watch as the "controller" navigates the Webcam.

Those who want to control the view may have to wait in line to fully experience the Webcam's high-tech features. The site, according to Wieners, was hit more than 1,000 times alone in its first week and there have been as many as 50 people on the site at once.

"It is a neat, fun thing intended to build excitement for people connected to the university," said Wieners. "With the amount of changes and advancements going on at UB, one of the problems is that everyone doesn't always know what is going on. This gives people the opportunity to actually be part of what is going on."

He added that each day a still shot is taken at a specific time and saved electronically, which will allow the UB Web Team to put together a time-lapse movie of the housing unit's construction once it is completed.

According to Donald Erb, residential facilities manager for the University Residence Halls, after the project is complete, the Webcam can be set up in different locations on campus to highlight aspects of UB development, including future construction projects.

"The installation of the Webcam allows people on- and off-campus to see the progress here at the university. Hopefully it will generate excitement among students on-campus since they could be the first occupants," said Erb. "People off-campus will visit and realize UB's commitment to on-campus housing by watching the construction of these new units."

Wieners, who conducted extensive research on Webcams and their uses as part of this project, found that only a handful of universities have utilized this particular Web technology and that very few Webcams have comparable image quality and range of features and abilities. The resolution is so high, he added, that if viewers zoom onto a parked car they can read the license plate on their computer screen.

The viewing experience has been made possible by the efforts of the University Residence Halls, the UB Web Team, Computing and Information Technology and the construction management team overseeing the project.

Erb added that a new Web site at offers a virtual tour of a model unit in the complex, site and floor plans, and information on UB how undergraduates can apply for occupancy. Click on "Hadley Site."