Technology at Work: K-12 Education
As one of the easiest and most economical ways for a school to dramatically improve overall visitor security, a professional visitor management system from EasyLobby is a good safeguard.
This includes Watch Lists such as each states’ registered sex offender database that will alert lobby attendants and administrators when someone on this list tries to check into the building. EasyLobby can display results within seconds when a match occurs.
The Ballston Spa Central School District in New York State is one of the many K-12 schools using visitor registration software from EasyLobby. Edwin Martin, Coordinator of Facilities and Security says, “From a security perspective, we now can reliably track everyone who visits, from arrival to departure, and issue temporary photo ID badges that our staff now expects to see on all visitors.”
The District decided early in the implementation process that they wanted different badges for various categories of visitors or contractors. They categorize guests into contractor, parent/guardian, presenter, and visitor. “It is quick and easy to apply a category and this feature is useful for sorting and reviewing visitors,” says Martin.
Martin continues, “Overall, the implementation of EasyLobby visitor registration software has been beneficial to the School District by providing administrators with the information needed to understand and manage visitors to our buildings.”
Dr. Joseph Dragone, Superintendent of Schools for the Ballston Spa Central School District was pleased about the results. He says, “EasyLobby has been well received by our community, especially parents who feel reassured that the district is taking security seriously. Staff members also appreciate the proactive stance the District has taken to visitor control and screening.”
Reduce Classroom Disruptions
More than 30 years ago STI was challenged by a suburban Detroit school administrator. He made it to Jack Taylor, founder of a firm specializing in security systems. “Jack, we need your help in stopping false fire alarms. They create havoc — which we don’t want.” Taylor and his associates went to work and created the Stopper® II, a cover to help prevent false fire alarms. The famous fire alarm preventer was paramount in creating a new segment in the fire and safety industry and can now be found in schools, universities, hospitals and other public buildings around the world.
The Stopper II protective cover helps deter pranksters from triggering false fire alarms, reduces unnecessary classroom interruptions (that can save instructional time) and eliminates the possibility of incurring a charge from fire officials for a false alarm. Also, the prevention of false alarms helps insure the local fire department is available for real fire emergencies.
STI has a complete Stopper® Line of products to help protect important life safety appliances relied upon every day. Wire guards protect clocks against damage in gyms, emergency push buttons and alarms for exit/entry doors and fire extinguishers, to name a few.
John Wesson, principal of Fayetteville High School states, “Since installing the Stopper II alarm covers in our building, we have had no false alarms this year – saving hours of instructional time.”
“High School kids were vandalizing and stealing fire extinguishers so we ordered a dozen or so STI Fire Extinguisher Theft Stoppers,” says Roger Scheevel, lead maintenance, Castro Valley School District. “A few of the kids tried it again but that was the end of it. We’ve had no repeat of the problem for the last year.”
STI products protect the things that protect you, while helping decrease expensive replacement of important devices or causing common disruptions in public buildings.
NorthKansas City School DistrictThwarts Thefts
Adigital IP security system with 295 megapixel cameras installed in 14 buildings of the high schools and middle schools of North Kansas City School District has saved the district thousands in foiling thefts and thwarting vandalism. The original RFP called for analog cameras, but with persistence from American Digital Security, the project was converted to megapixel IP cameras and NVRs. At a difference of only $80,000 from analog to digital, the district feels it made a good decision.
Buddy Mason, owner of American Digital Security in Liberty, Mo., which installed the system, attributes the end of thefts of football equipment, two flat-panel TVs and approximately $70,000 worth of cafeteria food to the new security system.
“These kids were stealing all these things. You can see it once the cameras are in place,” Mason says.
The cameras also helped identify a man who used a crowbar several times to break into a high school football equipment room and steal shoulder pads. “Their ROI is starting to pay off over time,” says Mason.
The system uses 295 cameras from 1.3 to 3 megapixels. The high school football field is covered by 180 degree panoramic cameras that use four, two-megapixel sensors in each camera.
The digital cameras from ClearPix offer high-resolution images that provide more detail than older, analog systems. The images from the cameras are stored in multiple network servers at each of the 14 buildings. “When we lay out a school system, it’s very important the network backbone is in place and to have switches in key areas,” Mason says. The video is transferred to the NVR at the high school through Cat 5 or fiber-
“We’ve done more than 200 schools – that’s our mainstay,” Mason says. The cost of the total system was approximately $688,000.
CodyHigh SchoolUpgrades to IP Video; Vastly Improves Identification
Rather than react to unfortunate events that can be common at the high school-level, Cody High School administration wanted to take a proactive approach to ensure the safety of its community. Its decade-old analog system, however, wasn’t doing the job.
Cody’s solution: Participate in crisis drills with local police and Homeland Security, and contract with Wyoming-based integrator ISC to replace its insufficient analog cameras with network surveillance technology.
ISC leveraged the school’s fiber network to install an array of 80 Axis Communications indoor and outdoor day/night network cameras to monitor the 42-acre campus. The onsite school resource officer has access to the system and, in an emergency, can share password-protected live video with local law enforcement and first responders.
“With the old system, a perpetrator could be looking directly at the camera and we still couldn’t see who it was,” says Jim Heath, technology director for Cody Public Schools. “The network cameras automatically adjust to the lighting conditions so we can zoom in and clearly see the details
“The video from our old analog system only identified culprits about 15 percent of time,” added Brandon Jensen, principal of Cody High School. “With our new IP cameras, we’ve so far been able to identify who was doing what 100 percent of the time.”
Inside the high school, fixed dome network cameras protect people and property. “While we don’t have a lot of vandalism problems,” says Jensen, “the cameras help us hold students responsible for their actions, whether they are malicious or accidental.”
To avoid unnecessary archiving, ISC leveraged Axis’ embedded motion detection to trigger recording with OnSSI’s intuitive NetDVMS. The motion sensitivity threshold was programmed for the field of view, and ISC helped block out high-movement areas to maximize recording.
ISC also deployed intelligent search features in the VMS to quickly scan video for missing objects. Administrators can select an area within the field of view – such as a laptop on a table – and instruct the VMS to fast forward and find the frame when the object moved. This saves multiple man-hours of manually searching video.
A Large School District with a Small Budget
Pearland ISD is a large school district in a thriving suburb of Houston, Texas. The district has 22 campuses and more than 18,000 students. One key administrative area for Pearland is the management of an extensive video security system throughout their school district. The district manages a network of more than 800 IP video surveillance cameras with only a part-time telecommunications manager.
Several years ago, the school board invested substantial funding to install cameras at various locations around the school district. The presence of the cameras significantly improved safety on the campus. The expansion of the IP camera system proceeded at a rapid pace, but the expansion created new administrative problems for the district.
Dissatisfied with the existing IP video surveillance sys-tem vendor, personnel in the telecommunications department began to investigate alternatives. They looked at all of the major players in the market and decided to look at Video Insight in greater detail because of how user-friendly the Video Insight software was for non-technical staff. District personnel set up a side-by-side live test comparing their exist-ing system with Video Insight and were surprised when the Video Insight solution required 40 percent less CPU utilization than their existing system, with the same number of cameras. Not only was the software easy to use, but it made efficient use of their bandwidth and CPU capacity. Because the infrastructure was already in place, the switchover to Video Insight was relatively painless; the Pearland techs merely uninstalled the old software and installed Video Insight.
The implementation of Video Insight has greatly reduced the total cost of ownership for the Pearland ISD IP video surveillance systems. Video Insight software makes the most of limited bandwidth, storage and CPU, so that more cam-eras can be managed from fewer servers; and its ease of use makes training costs almost non-existent.