Video Surveillance Making a Difference for School Security

Three school districts modernize their surveillance systems to address their security needs.

Video surveillance has become increasingly popular at educational facilities, and administrators are using the extra eyes to enhance safety in a variety of ways. The challenge for many institutions, whether they’re very large K-12 districts or charter schools, is finding an affordable system that meets their needs.

Such was the case for one of the biggest districts in the United States, which has more than 200 campuses, including administrative facilities for food services, nursing, human resources, parking enforcement and the district’s own police department. Previously, many of its campuses had surveillance systems, but they were obsolete. About one in five of the district’s facilities had no coverage at all. Many areas that did have cameras were covered by old units and DVRs that were left unattended and poorly maintained, which made footage retrieval difficult.

Administrators addressed this issue by bringing in a new team to manage the surveillance system overhaul. They discovered that the DVRs were very expensive to repair. In other cases, the coax would be spliced to a degree that made it unusable.

This posed a challenge for school officials because they wanted to maximize the existing infrastructure to help manage costs while being able to monitor activity in high definition (HD). Additionally, the district’s police department needed quick access to footage should an incident occur.

One of the challenges with legacy surveillance systems is that they are typically analog. Degraded image quality, separate audio and video cables and a lack of remote access to recorded images are just a few of their shortcomings. Until recently, the only solution for those looking to upgrade their systems was to “rip and replace” their legacy equipment with new IP cameras and its associated equipment.

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Fortunately for the district, however, they were able to overcome this challenge by installing an HD line of products that retains the simplicity of analog systems while offering HD video output. Specifically, this technology supports 1080p HD over long distances (up to 1,500 feet, or 500 meters) of coaxial cable and is compatible with traditional standard-definition cameras, HD-TVI-compatible cameras and DVRs and IP cameras.

To cover the parking areas, the high school is using Hikvision’s TurboHD 1080p Pan/Tilt/Zoom outdoor IR cameras. With an infrared range of 120 meters, the camera picks up fine details, even at a distance and in the dark. Plus, the camera allows users to control the unit’s pan/tilt/zoom functions through signals transmitted via coaxial cable. This flexibility also makes the p/t/z outdoor IR cameras appropriate for the school’s quad, which was previously monitored by a fixed camera that provided limited coverage.

The p/t/z camera, along with the TurboHD 1080p outdoor vandal-proof IR dome camera, have found homes in the school’s parking structures, as well as its entrances and exits. The Turbo 1080p keeps track of interior areas, such as stairwells, hallways and lunch areas.

The cameras, along with a variety of DVRs and NVRs, have proven to be cost-effective and better quality than what was being used before. The first complete installation showcases a mix of standard-definition analog and HD analog equipment working in concert to protect students and staff.

As a result of the installation, administrators are now not only able to watch footage in HD, they can also monitor activity from their offices using a mobile device or Web browser. The system also enables the district to remotely safeguard other critical assets. The best part for the district, according to the telecommunications team, is that officials have safeguarded their investment in the existing cabling structure.

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