Think about securing one facility – and multiply it. Times eight. Times 100. Times 250.

That’s what many security directors have to do, and what works best often depends upon the circumstances. Some security directors have found success by using one platform, while others an integrated approach. 

Robert Autorino, who is in charge of security for eight campuses with the New Jersey Paramus Public Schools, a public school district that serves more than 4,000 students in Kindergarten through twelfth grade, found that instead of working with eight different video systems on each school district campus, one system is best to watch over the school district’s students, faculty and facilities.

The school district is using a unified security platform, aptly titled the Security Center, at all eight of its school campuses for one interface for both video surveillance and access control. Incorporating IP into the system has also been ideal, as it has allowed security data to be shared between campuses over the network, and has saved on cabling costs.

Previously, Autorino explains, the security system entailed access control and photo ID system for staff only and there was limited access to both the access control and the security cameras. “The District was one of the first schools in Bergen County, N.J. to install cameras at the high school. At the time, we only had cameras in the high school. We also added a small access control system years later covering approximately five to six doors. Our experience with the system in the one school provided us with enough knowledge to know that by expanding our systems throughout the school district, we needed an all-in-one system. We went from 35 cameras and five access doors in one school to almost 150 cameras and 35 access doors in eight different schools,” Autorino says.

The District preserved a few previously existing analog cameras using IP encoders, and purchased more than 100 new IP cameras to complete the system. A server was provided to each school, allowing video and security data to be stored locally to maximize network efficiency.

Additionally, the District recently rebuilt the entrance to the high school, incorporating a new security control room for the entire district. Staffed security guards will manage the unified security platform spanning all campuses from this central location. The center will also allow direct access to police and emergency services.

For now, the District uses the video surveillance system from Genetec mainly as an investigative tool. Staff can pull archived video to discover who committed an act of vandalism or theft, definitively prove “who started what” to parents, and more. Autorino also uses the system to enhance emergency procedures and crowd control, evaluating the possibility of a fire code violation by monitoring the number of people at an event.

“By having access to our security cameras over the network, it has allowed each school to manage their own systems,” Autorino says. “It also allowed our school district to create centralized command center that allows me to view all schools from one location; from my office or from any school that I may be visiting. All of the school districts in New Jersey have experienced major cutbacks in funding from the state. We are forced to do more with either less personnel or smaller budgets. Our new security video and access control systems have helped us to maintain our commitment to provide a safe environment for our students at all of our schools.”

Wireless Works

The difficulty with securing multiple locations is no different on buses, where often the only authority figure on board is usually the driver. Many buses are now equipped with security cameras and thus function as deterrents to criminal activity and inappropriate behavior, and in some cases, provide evidence for criminal investigations.

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) is no stranger to finding a solution to secure its buses that travel a 3,240 total square mile route, providing service to approximately three million San Diego residents. The solution? DVR and back-end management software from Apollo Video for its fleet of transit vehicles. In the first phase of the project, existing transit surveillance systems in 246 of MTS fixed-route buses has been replaced with wireless back-end equipment, providing fleet-wide data and real-time video streaming.

The installation will include DVRs, interior and exterior cameras, motion detectors, and wireless local area network equipment. MTS also uses Vehicle Information Management (ViM) software that will give it vehicle status reports, event logs, on-demand video clip retrieval and automated downloads of event video.

MTS will utilize DVRs equipped with seven to nine cameras based on the specific bus types. Each camera system will provide MTS with Wi-Fi and GPS capabilities, allowing transit officials to monitor real-time video and location data. To capture potential incidents occurring inside the transit yards overnight, MTS included motion detection capabilities to trigger the system to start recording at the first sign of movement. The passive infrared sensor detects any movement inside the vehicle when the bus is turned off.

The system was installed on four transit buses as part of a 45-day test phase, which was successfully completed in December.

Migrating At Its Best

A video surveillance system is also helping a healthcare group to migrate to multi-site surveillance. Lakeridge Health Corporation, a Canadian-based healthcare group, is using an IP video solution to migrate its standalone DVR analog video equipment to an integrated multi-site surveillance system fromIndigoVision. By re-using much of the analog equipment, Lakeridge has managed to keep a great deal of its original investment.

Lakeridge Health is one of the largest integrated hospital networks in Ontario, formed in the late 1990s when four hospital campuses were brought together into one unified group. James Ramsey, manager for Security, Emergency Preparedness and Worksafe, soon realized that IP video technology was the only way forward to build an integrated surveillance system across its campuses. The hospital’s network can support more than 1,000 cameras without interference with other network functions and has fully redundant power supplies, switches, routers and firewalls.

Since 2007, 250 fixed and PTZ cameras have been added to the IP video system across four sites, including 144 cameras from the original system in the main Oshawa hospital complex. An additional 46 cameras will be added over the next few months. Two of the other hospital sites are using the existing DVR analog equipment, but they will also be migrating across to the system in the future.

As the video system is fully distributed, any component can be located at any point on the network, including workstations that are used by operators to view and analyze both live and recorded video from any camera at any site. Lakeridge Health has been able to deploy multiple workstations across the group for no additional cost. In addition to the central monitoring facility at Oshawa, workstations are also located in various departments and at numerous Nurse Stations, where their access is limited to live view of local cameras.

"The ability to place video workstations in different departments has been of great benefit to us,” says Ramsey. “The Parking Services department located at Oshawa Hospital used to rely on an intercom to communicate with the other sites, now they can monitor and manage all of the group’s parking lots and unmanned gates from a single workstation. It’s also much easier to track missing equipment and locate wandering patients.”

Video is continuously recorded from all cameras on NVRs for up to 45 days, and evidential quality video clips can be exported for police use in the event of an incident.