Safety First

8/1/2011 6:20:00 PM

A look at how two districts use security tech to protect their schools.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 85 percent of public schools recorded at least one incident of crime during the 2007–2008 school year that had taken place at school, amounting to an estimated two million crimes., We don’t like to think or talk about it, but school security has become a top priority for school leaders.

The good news is that installing a video surveillance system has gotten easier in the last few years. Today, most security camera systems use IP cameras, which can be either wired or wireless over a computer network. Unlike older analog closed-circuit television systems, IP cameras can be installed by the user and reconfigured as needed. They also let users broadcast footage over the Internet, making it easy to monitor.

But cameras are just a start. To help create a safe, secure environment and protect against everything from fights and bullying to trespassing and theft, schools are installing video surveillance cameras, physical access controls, and paging and radio systems.

All Systems Go

When IT director Matt Frederickson left the private sector to work at Council Rock (PA) School District in 2003, the IT infrastructure was so poor that, he says, “If the network was up for three days a week, the teachers were thrilled.” So Frederickson called Cisco and installed a state-of-the-art network, knowing that a solid backbone was the first step to bringing the district up to date.

At the time, the high schools had limited video surveillance and dooraccess control deployments, but every camera and door controller required their own power lines, which cost $250 to $300 to install. Additionally, each system had to be managed locally, and video was stored on VCRs at each school.

The IT department, key administrators, and safety officers developed a master security plan. Their goals were for the control systems to be cost effective and easy to use and manage. “We had already invested in a solid IP network, so that became the platform for video surveillance and physical access controls,” Frederickson says.

Today, the district has deployed 42 cameras in its two high schools, including wireless Cisco Video Surveillance 2500 series IP Cameras and wired cameras from Sony. The central IT office monitors all of the cameras through Cisco’s video surveillance manager software; school resource officers, principals, and the dean can look at any camera’s video using a Web browser.

Campus resource officers can move the cameras to any location without advance planning.

Because the video surveillance solution operates over the IP network, Council Rock can grant access to the system to people in any location. The district and the local police department established a memorandum of understanding, giving police permission to view video from cameras outside one of the high school buildings. Council Rock plans to continue adding video surveillance cameras and door access controllers, and to further increase the return on investment from its IP network by using it to reduce energy costs.

A Solid Security Plan

Five years ago, around the time John Hunkiar became chief of safety, security, and emergency management for Leon County (FL) Schools, there was an attempted abduction at one of the district’s elementary schools. Needless to say, that event led to a full-scale evaluation of security procedures. The district, which is one of the state’s largest, had dozens of campuses and virtually no comprehensive video surveillance system.

“We wanted to prevent stuff from happening and have the ability to follow up on anything that may have occurred,” says Hunkiar. His plan was to install an easy-to-maintain video surveillance solution on all 48 campus perimeters and administration buildings. Hunkiar looked for a company that focused on software without forcing him to purchase a lot of expensive hardware. He also wanted to incorporate access control to some of the administrative facilities. Video Insight was the right fit.

Today, there are more than 1,500 cameras on campus. Leon County selected an analog system consisting of rack mount 2950 Dell servers and 32 cameras per school. The cameras monitor and record building exteriors and parking lots to deter unauthorized access and visitors, vandalism, and other illegal activities. “We focused on user-friendly, low-maintenance products rather than high-end cameras, then mapped out each campus with administrators and law enforcement,” says Hunkiar.

The district also uses Video Insight’s card access control system to secure confidential information in a few administrative areas.

Hunkiar says that one of the best features is that authorized personnel can watch the cameras from the stateof- the-art district monitoring/emergency operations center or remotely, whichever is most convenient. “We monitor our own alarms and cameras and can pull up cameras and look at what’s happening,” he says. The center monitors real-time weather alerts and contacts schools about possible holds and emergencies, monitors school buses and maintenance vehicles via GPS, and is responsible for emergency messaging. The center also serves as Leon County’s backup emergency operations center, further legitimizing the technology and planning that went into building it. “It’s a round-the-clock, single point of access,” says Hunkiar.

Over the years, Hunkiar has dealt with missing children during the school day, shootings in the area, bomb threats, weather-related emergencies, and natural disasters. “Pre- Columbine and pre-9/11, school safety was a different animal. In the last 15 years, everything’s changed. You can’t just walk into a teacher’s classroom and drop off lunch.”

comments powered by Disqus
Tweets
Photo GalleriesView All Galleries >
Acer C720-2844 Chromebook

(www.acer.com) The Acer C720-2844 Chromebook model delivers speedy performance, a quick boot time of seven seconds, and a matte anti-glare display tha...

Britannica ImageQuest

(www.britannica.com) Britannica Digital Learning has upgraded ImageQuest, a resource for schools and libraries that provides nearly three million rig...

ClassFlow

(www.classflow.com) Promethean has released ClassFlow, a free, all-in-one, cloud-based teaching tool that lets teachers create and deliver interactive...

Adobe Voice

(www.adobe.com) Adobe has released Adobe Voice, an animated video app for the iPad that lets users create and share video stories. The app incorporate...

DeskBoard

(www.boxlight.com) The BOXLIGHT DeskBoard mobile cart adjusts both height and tilt for the P8 ultra short throw interactive projector on a white surfa...

Core 36M

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has introduced Core 36M, a 36-unit charging cart that is optimized for Chromebooks but which also supports most tablets, l...

Edmentum Sensei

(www.edmentum.com) Edmentum Sensei is a mobile optimized solution that helps administrators visualize and track overall school, teacher, and student p...

HMH Player

(www.hmhco.com) HMH has released HMH Player, a new native app for iOS and Google Chrome that streamlines the learning experience for improved digital ...

Juice Power System

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has unveiled an easy-to-use modular power system with exchangeable power components. The Juice Power System uses unique &#...

LightSail

(www.lightsailed.com) LightSail Education has announced a literacy accelerator that combines books with in-text embedded assessments and real-time dat...

myON

(www.myon.com) myON has expanded its digital library to include a set of literacy tools to further personalize the reading experience for students whi...

Nervanix Clarity

(www.nervanix.com) Nervanix has released Clarity, an application that monitors student attention levels as they study and guides them to revisit conce...

MathBall

(www.robotslab.com) RobotsLAB has introduced MathBall, a smart sensor basketball and tablet system that offers curricula in algebra, pre-calculus, phy...

MobileAsset.EDU

(www.waspbarcode.com) Wasp Barcode’s MobileAsset.EDU solutions include everything administrators need to account for their assets, from software...

OpenEd Assessment Creation Tool

(www.opened.io) OpenEd has announced a free tool that lets teachers easily create assessments with the question types required by Common Core standard...

Panasonic TH-80LFB70U

(www.panasonic.com) Panasonic’s TH-80LFB70U interactive LED display features high-speed, multi-touch, interactive capabilities to promote partic...

penveu interactive display system

(www.penveu.com) The penveu interactive display system is a handheld device that turns projectors and large screen displays into interactive whiteboar...

PresentationPro

(www.califone.com) Califone has updated its PresentationPro speaker. The PA310 readily connects with computers, LCD projectors, mobile devices, intera...

PowerSync+ Mobile Companion App

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has announced the availability of the companion app for its PowerSync+ enabled charge and sync produc...

PureCharge Carts and Stations for iPad

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has debuted the PureCharge family of iPad and iPad mini charging carts and stations. By offering pre-i...

ProQuest Research Companion

(www.proquest.com) ProQuest’s new information literacy product, Research Companion, offers videos that guide users through the research process,...

Sphere2 & Class Send Student Engagement Software Platform

(www.averusa.com) AVer Information has developed a Student Engagement platform, providing teachers and students with the tools to transmit document ca...

TabChargeCT2

(www.averusa.com) AVer has released the TabChargeCT2 charge cart solution, which can hold up to 40 Chromebooks, iPads, Android or Windows tablets, lap...

VoiceLift with Instant Alert and Emergency Video Monitoring

(www.extron.com) The Instant Alert function of the Extron VoiceLift Microphone, combined with a PoleVault, WallVault, or PlenumVault classroom AV sys...

SMART Board 6065

(www.smarttech.com) The SMART Board 6065 is an ultra HD, 4K interactive flat panel that offers collaborative capabilities while ensuring lessons run s...

Gaggle Unity Partner Program

(www.gaggle.net) The new Gaggle Unity Partner Program provides free data integration services for all educational technology vendors. Through the Gagg...

Waterford Early Learning, Reading, Math & Science

(www.waterford.org) Waterford Early Learning Cloud can be used at home or to supplement lessons in classrooms. It can also be used for individual adap...

NetSupport School

(www.netsupportschool.com) The latest version of NetSupport School allows teachers to monitor and collaborate with any mix of technology. An enhanced ...

Camtasia

(www.techsmith.com/camtasia) TechSmith’s Camtasia gives teachers the tools to record lessons, create videos, and engage their audiences. Educato...

Panasonic 3E

(www.panasonic.com) Intel has teamed up with Panasonic to announce the Panasonic 3E, which uses the Intel Education 2-in-1 reference design. Designed ...