StormCam is watching you

by Nicki Vanhoever

The StormCam seems to be a big mystery on campus. Many students don’t have an idea of what it is or why it’s in place.

Essentially it’s a webcam that is set up in the faculty lounge in the Carver Science Center. The camera overlooks the quad, the area between Carver Science Center, Hillman Hall, College Hall, Smith Chapel and the Amy Robertson Music Center.

Every second a new picture is shot and sent directly to the network, and from there anyone on the web can see what’s going on at Simpson by visiting

The school set up the StormCam in the summer of 2001 in order to allow alumni and perspective students to see what was going on in the quad.

Although many people on campus are unaware of the camera, it seems to be a popular tool for people in the outside world.

Freshman Maria Vosberg used it as a tool in checking out campus before she became a student here.

“I thought it was interesting because I could use it before I came here to get a look at campus,” Vosberg said.

However, Vosberg, like most students, doesn’t use the camera anymore.

“I actually kind of forgot about it,” she said.

According to Academic Software Specialist Chuck Johnson, the StormCam Web site is visited anywhere between 500 to more than 2000 times per month.

“It’s meant more for fun than any serious nature,” Johnson said. “I think that people who visit it enjoy it.”

Johnson played a key role in the setting up of the StormCam. He was the primary person in charge of the Web site at the time the camera was purchased.

He researched available cameras and then purchased it from one of the companies the school buys computer hardware from. Johnson set up the camera in its current location.

The decision to place it in Carver was made by the Web committee. Other places that were considered were the library and some places around Brenton Student Center.

Johnson is no longer in charge of the camera; Simpson’s full-time Web Architect Missy DeYoung now monitors it.

There are some students on campus who know of the camera’s existence. These students have been known to set up certain times of the day to keep in touch with their family.

“I have friends who’ll use it to wave at friends and family,” junior Jean Clipperton said.

Clipperton is spending the semester in Nicaragua and can use the StormCam to check out what’s going on here.

“It does allow people to see what things are like on campus while they are living in different parts of the country or just away from campus,” Johnson said.

Although the camera shows the campus well during the daylight hours, the StormCam’s nighttime capabilities are not very good.

“It does still send pictures to the server at night,” Johnson said. “Can you see anything? Not really. The camera doesn’t do as well as the human eye at night.”

There are times, however, when the camera takes a pretty good picture at night.

“The image was pretty at night when the Avenue of Trees was on display between Hillman and the Chapel,” Johnson said.

It can be used for just about anything, from checking out the campus to waving at friends and family.

“Check it out, it’s kind of fun to watch what goes on at times,” Johnson said.