University of Haifa cameras watch over the North

The University of Haifa is watching you. Three cameras installed atop the campus's Rabin Building on the Carmel are taking video pictures that are displayed on a new Web site in real time - The site is now in the testing stages. The university said that the project, which can pick up forest fires, emissions of pollution from factories and other events, is unique. While there are Internet cameras at other sites such as the Western Wall Plaza, Mt. Hermon on the Golan Heights and the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv, the university's is the only set-up in which the pictures are turned into film that will be saved in a permanent archive that can be consulted by any user. Prof. Haim Kutiel of the school's Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, who initiated the project, said he intends to install infrared cameras as well, so that high-quality images will also be taken at night. The new cameras monitor three different views, 24 hours a day. In the event of a forest fire, Jewish National Fund and Carmel Park personnel will be able to focus on the point of origin and spread. Factories that violate environmental regulations will hopefully be caught in the act, Kutiel said. Unusual weather conditions will be documented, and the film will be available for use in insurance claims, he said. One camera faces southwest; it views the Hadera power plants. The second faces North, covering the entire Haifa Bay, and will monitor pollution rising from the chemical plants there. The third camera faces the Hermon to the northeast.