Integrator Helps Optimize Security System at New York City’s School of Visual Arts

Idesco implemented sophisticated integration of SVA’s surveillance cameras and access control system to get the most out of its security system.

FOR more than six decades, New York City’s School of Visual Arts (SVA) has been a leader in the education of artists, designers and creative professionals. In order to protect its 6,000+ students and more than 15 buildings at its Manhattan campus, SVA is also setting a shining example of today’s higher education security opportunities for stakeholders and systems integrators alike.

With its mix of classrooms, facilities and offices occupying space on campus, safety has always been a priority for the college. SVA has invested heavily to ensure a safe environment for its students, faculty and staff, and maintains a total security staff of 93. In addition to ensuring the personal safety of its community, it has been critical for the school to secure computer equipment, specialized technology and other high value academic and administrative assets.

Given its diffuse campus, large commuter-student population and commitment to civic responsibility, SVA’s security interests also extend beyond its own buildings, and occasionally, the New York Police Department has asked the college to provide video footage for ongoing investigations that are unrelated to campus activities. How can today’s security providers work with campus brass to define and address such wide-ranging security needs? Discussions with SVA stakeholders along with its security integrator reveal pitfalls and procedures taken to pass this challenging college test.

Integrator Entrenched in Education Market
SVA already had standalone video surveillance and door-access systems on campus, but was interested in upgrading its overall security system to create a safer environment for all and to simplify the management of security operations college-wide. “We needed a centralized system,” says Cosmin Tomescu, SVA’s chief information officer. “We were looking for a solution that would easily integrate with the majority of the equipment already in place. The objectives were to minimize the impact on our security office and to reduce the cost of recabling every location.”

Read More: Vast Majority of Schools Have Surveillance Cameras, Access Control Points, Study Finds

In May 2014, the school’s administrators contacted Idesco Corp. to initiate the upgrade. SVA’s security partner since 2011, Idesco focuses on the education market as one of its key verticals and has worked with other high-profile New York City campuses, including New York University and Pace University. The Manhattan-based integrator has built a reputation for being on the forefront of technologies such as access control, video surveillance, ID badging systems, biometrics, turnstiles and visitor management.

The School of Visual Arts worked closely with Idesco to understand its needs and integrate disparate systems such as its existing video surveillance cameras and access control card readers into a more centralized platform to produce much greater functionality.

“Idesco has secured some of the largest campuses in the Tri-State [New York, New Jersey, Connecticut] area so we know what it takes to design, manage, install and service a security system that will keep students and staff safe and secure,” says Idesco President Andrew Schonzeit.

Meanwhile, Tomescu and other SVA administrators could take solace in knowing they had a trusted security advisor on board to work closely with their IT and security departments to effectively upgrade their current system and build on their relationship. “We relied on Idesco to help us upgrade our current system and advise us on the best path to get to a state-of-the-art system in a virtual environment,” says Tomescu.

SVA’s existing access control system included 400+ HID proximity card readers and Mercury panels for door access, along with standalone wireless door locks. Tomescu notes that the prox card readers provide ease of use, strong security, valuable access control information for security investigations plus a high degree of control for the academic and administrative departments that maintain the spaces.

The college also maintains more than 700 surveillance cameras in outdoor and/or public areas such as sidewalks, building perimeters, entrance lobbies, common areas, stairways, hallways, classrooms, basements and roofs.

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