Security continues to be a top priority in K-12 and higher education facilities across the country as school boards and administrations are looking for better and more cost-efficient means to protect students, personnel and assets. New developments in IP video surveillance and security solutions are answering this call with systems that provide superior image quality, better integration, simple accessibility, network capabilities and expanded scalability. Within this framework, video management system (VMS) solutions are already delivering advantages and positive outcomes for safety and security.

The following are a few of the benefits of a VMS deployment within an educational environment:

Cost Efficiency 

A significant economic benefit of a VMS solution built on an open architecture platform is its contribution to system ROI (return on investment). The open architecture platform promotes flexibility in system design and protection of the original investment as systems are upgraded or new industry partners are added.

A school’s total physical security package can include video surveillance integrated with access control systems, license plate recognition systems, content analysis software, fire alarm, radiation detection and/or other network-based systems. This entire package can all be managed and controlled from a VMS solution – without the need for and additional cost of matrix switching systems and other expensive or proprietary hardware. The system can often run on standard IT servers, while adhering to and supporting recognized industry standards.

As total cost of ownership (TCO) is affected by the size of the system, a VMS solution can be effective in helping to reduce overall costs. When the VMS incorporates integration of multiple license types within one system, the user can save costs for less critical applications such as a closet surveillance system. New licensing models can accommodate any size school district with centralized or satellite/distributed system models.

Many manufacturers offer a number of different feature sets to match the budget and video surveillance needs of any college or university. The user should ensure that the system is scalable, so it can expand when further funding becomes available, or as surveillance needs grow and change.

Smart Technology

One of the key factors to effective security is situational awareness, which a complement of well-placed high-definition and megapixel cameras can provide. However, not every school has a dedicated network for transmission. A VMS addresses this by enabling standard-definition and HD/megapixel cameras to stream high-resolution video over a limited bandwidth network at full frame rates with the ability to control pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) functions.

Other advanced technologies available with VMS solutions affect performance control and system design. High Definition Interactive Streaming (HDIS) technology delivers full-motion playback of up to 16 live and recorded HD camera streams at full frame rate on any web browser or handheld device, even on 3G and 4G networks. Onboard de-warping functionality reduces the number of multi-head or panoramic cameras required in a system. Both centralized and distributed system architecture can be supported via CNVR (camera NVR) capabilities. 

Pro-Active Security

Analysis capabilities found in VMS solutions are helping to drive video surveillance from a detection model to a prevention model. For instance, VMS can be programmed to create meaningful events based on a number of parameters and send alerts or push video to selected displays or devices. This enables schools to react to events and potential problems quickly and effectively, and prevent them from escalating.

This additional situational awareness provided by the pushed video stream, can help to broaden the potential incident response activity in venues that cover several acres, such as university campuses, and give security management actual “eyes at the scene.” It can also enhance the ability of management and staff to share/collaborate on different threat levels. And to help ensure the integrity of the system, a management server can be programmed on a granular level for information access and control.

Ease of Use

The intelligence, intuitiveness and ease of use of VMS available today make managing video data much more efficient and less cumbersome, regardless of the size of the system. With traditional record-and-review systems, there are often too few operators who have too little time and are trying to handle too many cameras all at once. With a VMS, operators have tools that provide them with full control over all parameters, including PTZ presets, joystick control, digital zoom and more. With these intuitive features built into the user interface, operators have the advantage they need to make the right decisions when an alert is sent.

Additionally, complex systems can be centrally managed with time saving tools like touch-screen technology, map-based interfaces, context-sensitive pop-up controls and time slice forensics.

Advanced IP video surveillance VMS solutions have given schools a tremendous advantage in meeting the challenges of safety and security. Add to this the extra benefits of cost efficiencies, smart technology, pro-active security and ease of use, and it becomes clear that VMS solutions are an educated choice.