As part of safety concerns related to using the telescope as part of remote observing a plan was prepared for a system of surveillance cameras to be placed in the dome. These are web-type cameras that can be connected and accessed directly through the network. There are various models that can be sensitive to different light-levels, and which can include pan, tilt and zoom and can be configured to provide alarms (e.g., motion detection in predefined areas in the field of view, contact signals from an entrance door, etc).
We recently bought one such camera for the dome. Our first experiences with it are extremely good, allowing us to see the whole telescope, but also to zoom in and read numbers directly from an instrument display. Based on this, we believe these cameras could also be of great use as part of trouble shooting and development work without being physically at the telescope. We are ordering 3 static low-light-level sensitive cameras, 2 for use in the dome and 1 to replace the outside camera on the weather station, and 2 movable but normal sensitive cameras for use in the control room and the electronics room.
There is of course an issue of privacy, and for each camera that is installed in common areas such as the control room we will provide a master switch at the camera which will allow it to be disconnected.
Thomas Augusteijn 2009-01-15