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Schools Learning the Benefits of Video Surveillance

July 7, 2015

A U.S. school district upgrades and expands its video surveillance using state-of-the-art technology.

Introduction
Video surveillance has become increasingly popular at educational facilities. Although student and staff safety are the primary drivers of this activity, administrators are using the extra eyes to enhance safety in a variety of different ways. Schools want the ability to monitor student drop-off areas, for example, and if there is a car in the area that doesn’t belong there, they want a surveillance system with eyes sharp enough to read license plates. Within school grounds, places such as baseball and soccer fields are concerns for many administrators because students and trespassers may loiter or misuse the areas after school hours. The challenge for many educational organizations, which are already stretching limited budgets to carry out their missions, is finding an affordable surveillance system that adequately meets their needs.
 

Requirement: A Centralized System on a Budget
One U.S. school district saw a need for centralized video coverage of the interior and exterior areas of their schools and administration building, both to monitor areas where student behavior issues were known to occur and to prepare for emergencies. In addition to drop-off and recreation areas, the district needed to monitor the playground areas for unauthorized visitors as well as interior hallways for student altercations. Six sites in the district were in need of a surveillance overhaul: some locations had aging analog cameras, while other locations had no cameras at all. The district also wanted centralized management of the video system, so that people such as building resource officers, principals and other key individuals could monitor activity from their offices.

The school district’s technology administrator knew the project required a reliable surveillance system at a competitive price. Versatile cameras were needed to provide coverage and multiple angles in playgrounds, ball fields, and corridors. The district also wanted cameras with high resolution to be able to zoom in on license plate numbers and other identifying details in case of an event. The administrator conducted a price comparison to determine which provider would offer the district the greatest amount of coverage possible within the parameters of the school’s budget.
 

Solution: Robust and Remotely Accessible Surveillance
The district opted for a surveillance system that used a suite of Hikvision cameras as well as Hikvision’s DVRs and client software. Setronics, a trusted security systems integrator, was contracted to design and install the system. Schools in the district are now protected by a variety of bullet, dome, PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) and turret cameras to capture events in and around the campuses. These are all IP — Internet protocol — cameras that can send and receive data on a network.

Setronics installed 3-MP wide dynamic range indoor dome cameras, such as Hikvision’s DS-2CD754FWD-EIZ model, to cover areas including gyms and food pantries. The DS-2CD2332-I, a 3-MP EXIR turret network camera, was a more appropriate choice for stairwells and other interior spaces. Several drop-off areas and parking lots are covered by the DS-2CD8283F-EIZ, a 5-MP bullet camera with high enough resolution to hone in on license plate numbers and identifiable features of people in the vicinity. All of these cameras are connected through DVRs and software that allow the district to continue using its analog cameras as new IP cameras are added to the setup.

The Hikvision DS-9016HWI-ST hybrid DVR, which features up to 5-MP resolution recording as well as up to 4 TB of capacity for each hard disk, was used to maximize existing infrastructure while incorporating new IP cameras. Another forward-thinking element of the installation at the schools is its ability to link remotely to law enforcement agencies.

“Hikvision’s iVMS-4200 client software offers the potential for police and fire dispatch to log in to and view the cameras in the school remotely in the case of an active shooter event,” explained Scott Roberts, sales manager at Setronics and part of the team handled the design and installation of the surveillance system. “This would help them more quickly assess and respond to the situation.”
 

Result: Enhanced Safety
So far, the upgraded surveillance system has performed as promised — possibly even better than anticipated. The superior image quality afforded by the DS-2CD2332-I allows license plate numbers to be read on cars that pull up in student drop-off areas. Cameras at building entrances feed into the front office, enabling school administrators to clearly identify visitors before buzzing them in.

Inside the facilities, the cameras have functioned more as a deterrent. Certain stairwells in the middle and high school buildings, for example, which were notorious for mischief, are no longer problematic. One eighth-grade student asked the principal, “What’s up with all these new cameras?” “This way I can see you,” the principal jovially responded.

Another wish the school district had was to spread viewership around. The technology administrator wanted to devise a setup in which principals, secretaries, and other administrative personnel would be able to view local activity. The district created a virtualized VMS server and was eventually able to provide URLs for employees to look at their specific schools. Facilities with analog cameras are able to view analog feeds along with those from newer IP cameras in one seamless view.

Going forward, the schools will have even more coverage as the surveillance system is expanded. Three elementary school buildings that currently have no coverage will have exterior cameras by the time school begins again in the fall, and the district plans to make a full migration to IP cameras in the future.
 

Conclusion
School surveillance is becoming more the norm rather than the exception as educators harness the latest technology to keep students and staff safe. For many of these customers, they are interested in a robust migration path that allows them to upgrade or install new features or cameras over time instead of doing complete overhauls immediately. This particular school district discovered that Hikvision offered the most appropriate solution — a high-quality digital surveillance system outfitted with powerful cameras that also offered the opportunity to maximize use of existing equipment. Not only does the system have the capability to assist law enforcement in responding to an event, but it can also scale to the district’s ever-growing needs.

IMPORTANT! This model requires non-standard firmware. Do Not Install standard firmware (e.g. v.4.1.xx) on this model. Doing so will permanently damage your system. You must use custom firmware v.4.1.25 from the iDS-9632NXI-I8/16S product page.

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