Schooled in Solving the Challenges of Campus Safety

Washington Community High School solves security challenges with a surveillance system that saves employees time and diminishes false alarms.

Schooled in Solving the Challenges of Campus Safety

Located six miles east of Peoria in the town of Washington, Illinois, Washington Community High School (WCHS) has a student population of about 1300. The school offers a diverse curriculum and has projects planned to accommodate its growing student body. With that growth comes an increase in potential security and safety issues, which has included students throwing objects in the cafeteria, passing unknown objects to each other and vaping in hallways.

Identifying the Problem

With a patchwork surveillance system consisting of outdated analog cameras and recorders from multiple manufacturers, WCHS found that its solution was incapable of addressing its safety and security needs. Further complicating the problem was the fact that video of events or incidents was difficult to locate with the analog system.

“That was the biggest headache with the old system, having to spend an hour to find five minutes’ worth of video, often for very minor things,” said Troi Westbrook School Resource Officer.

Difficult video retrieval, poor image quality, and a lack of coverage in some key areas, left the school open to potential liability for incidents.

Providing the Solution

WCHS undertook a security audit, which led to the decision to upgrade to an IP-based system that would provide them with the quality, coverage and ease of use needed to secure the school.

WCHS contracted The Kern Group of Peoria, who identified end-to-end solutions from Axis Communications as the best path forward for the school. To put decision-makers at ease about their investment in the new system, Kern delivered a proof-of-concept demonstration by installing Axis cameras in specific problem areas so they see the real-time, real-world video solution.

“It was incredibly helpful to have Axis come down and give us an actual presentation of what the video would look like live. It helped us see what we were actually purchasing before it was installed in-house,” said Joseph Sander, Assistant Superintendent of School District 308.

Recognizing the fact that no one camera can fit all applications, Kern selected camera models to match the specific locations where they would be installed based on their individual feature sets. Using AXIS Site Designer to determine locations, Kern deployed 72 Axis cameras in the building and around the school’s campus.

“AXIS Site Designer worked flawlessly. We presented the school with CAD drawings in a way that is easy to understand with different icons and colors that represent different cameras, showing where they will be installed,” said Greg Kern, an Axis Certified Professional and Managing Partner of The Kern Group.

Increased Efficiency and Security

The completed system allows Westbrook to receive alerts and images on his phone if someone enters a restricted area at a particular time. Previously, there was no way to verify these events generated by the intrusion detection system, leading to the large number of false alarms that plagued the school’s existing system.

“The number of false alarms in our school district became numbing, and numb is a term you don’t want to use in safety and security,” Sander said. “We haven’t had any problems in that area since putting in the Axis system.”

Another improvement has been Westbrook’s ability to access video more quickly using AXIS Camera Station video management system (VMS) and an AXIS S9002 Desktop Terminal which has freed him up to spend more time monitoring the school for potential problems.

“It’s performed much better than the former system and it’s saved me a lot of time,” Westbrook said. “Also, the quality is not even comparable to the previous system. I’m able to see farther distances in much more detail.”

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