‘20 under 40’ Class of 2018—Kevin Sopha

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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Kevin Sopha, 36

Director of security and video operations, University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Department

Madison, Wis.

Kevin Sopha has worked on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus for 16 years and says that a desire to help people is what brought him into the physical security space.

Sopha, now the director of security and video operations for the school, working under the campus police department, is responsible for upgrading and maintaining the campus’ camera system. “We had roughly about 1,300 analog cameras on campus about five years ago and recently … changed it all over to IP cameras, changed the video software over and the system continues to grow,” he said.

The school’s stadium seats over 80,000 people, and hosts football and a range of special events.  In addition to the stadium, the campus has hosted a range of special events with unique security challenges from concerts to high-profile political speeches. “There’s a lot of dignitaries that come and visit. … In the six years I’ve worked with the police department, Obama came here, Hillary has been here, presidential nominees have been here; Bernie Sanders was here.” The Dali Lama has visited the campus several times.

Located within the city of Madison, Wis., the campus has about 43,000 students plus about 21,000 staff members. “We have our own police department, we have our own heating plant, we have our own utility. … We have our own lake safety rescue team, because we’re right on a lake.” Sopha said. “It literally is a city within a city.”

Several universities have reached out to Sopha for advice on setting up cameras systems and handling different problems, he said. “It’s nice to be able to share that knowledge with people.”

Sopha highlighted facial recognition and changes in card access as two interesting current technological changes. Additionally, different threats have necessitated new security measures, such as putting up vehicle barriers around buildings, including “potted plants that you couldn’t move with a truck—to make it aesthetically pleasing.”