Missouri Church Adds IP-Based System To Deter Theft

James River Assembly Church, the country’s second largest Assemblies of God Church, has deployed more than 350 Axis Communications network cameras and encoders inside and outside of the church and community facilities at its two campus locations in southwest Missouri, according to the company.

Integrator NetWatch Inc. of Springfield began implementing the IP-based system in 2006, working with the church to transition its disparate analog cameras using Axis video encoders so the Church could fully integrate its system and store data for longer periods of time than was available with the VCRs and DVRs previously in use.

The AXIS 241Q video encoders permitted the church to leverage IP capabilities, such as central monitoring and integration with other network cameras without compromising existing analog assets.

NetWatch next implemented a mix of fixed and pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) Axis network cameras, including AXIS 215 PTZ network cameras and HDTV-quality AXIS M3014 fixed dome network cameras and AXIS Q1755 network cameras.

The HDTV-quality network cameras use H.264 compression to increase video storage by as much as 80 percent (totaling 180 days), and the megapixel capabilities have allowed James River Assembly to reduce the number of network cameras required to monitor certain areas using higher resolution and a wider field of vision. Additionally, NetWatch equipped James River Assembly with a wireless AXIS 211W so the church could position the network camera at different locations on an as-needed basis.

NetWatch completed the installation with OnSSI video management software and Dell servers.

“Axis network cameras are of high quality, have an excellent warranty and have a reputation for reliability that has given us peace of mind,” said Kert Parsley, chief operating officer of James River. “Even though we do extensive background checks on individuals working with children, the network video cameras provide an added level of comfort to parents dropping off children in our Sunday School classrooms.”

In addition to classrooms, Axis network cameras monitor hallways, common areas and the fitness center as well as entrances and exits to church buildings and parking lots. The new network cameras have helped the church identify and solve theft of computers, game consoles and other property. The church has also seen improvements in the ease and speed of identifying incidents. What may have taken hours or days using DVRs or VCRs to locate now takes only minutes.

“On one occasion, we were even able to quickly locate stored footage and piece it together with live video to identify and locate an individual who unknowingly had brought a dangerous item into a common area of the church,” Parsley noted. 

Over time, James River plans on fully completing the conversion from analog to IP and may implement sophisticated video analytics such as people counting, so it knows the number of individuals, for example, coming into each service.

“We congratulate James River and NetWatch on the use of network cameras in enhancing the safety of its members and visitors and the use of video encoders to provide a cost-effective and gradual migration to full IP capabilities,” said Fredrik Nilsson, Axis’ general manager. “This is yet another example of how a best-of-breed network video solution can integrate existing cameras, as well as provide the benefits of new HDTV network cameras in a future proof and cost-efficient manner.”

James River Assembly is a church with more than 15,000 parishioners. On Sundays, more than 9,000 people, about one-quarter of them elementary school age and younger, attend one of the church locations. About 2,000 volunteers assist staff with a variety of groups and classes at the two campuses, which also include stadium-sized auditoriums, a fitness center, multiple classrooms and outdoor playgrounds.

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