Integrators: Go to the head of the class

No matter the grade level, there's a need for comprehensive security solutions to be delivered to the education market. Problem is, sorting through all the variables with this particular vertical, like a diverse set of needs among its end users as well as the need to deal with legacy equipment and in some cases aging infrastructures.

Right now some of the current issues in this vertical market are funding or lack thereof. There are some grants and other monies out there but it takes diligent effort and dedicated resources to uncover and keep up with these contributions. As such, the specifications can be all over the board and run the gamut from two to four-door access control and intrusion detectors and sensors to intercoms and integrated IP networked solutions. For the most part schools want to make do with a small number of megapixel cameras, or use analog more extensively, again depending on their budget. They usually don't have resources for active monitoring, but depend on alerts, event management and other notifications to view incidents in action or after the fact, recording mostly to DVRs and some NVRs. Retrofitting legacy equipment and providing upgraded security without forklift upgrades is also on the curriculum for these end users, but they often don't have a lot of money to spend given the current state of the market.

Yes, there are opportunities across the board

The landscape for the lower grade levels (even preschools which seem to like Web cams) kindergarten through high school (K-12) versus universities and upper education also varies greatly. At the lower grade levels users may have a core offering of access control and intercoms with a fine-focus on perimeter and intrusion detection. Some cameras are being installed for main points of entry and exit, but again for the lower grades these may be sparser than university settings and depend on the budget of the end-user.

Especially in urban and inner city settings, high schools are turning to metal detection. Active monitoring of security cameras watches the comings and goings of students more extensively. Card access and intrusion detection is also in place especially for computer labs or other rooms with equipment or instruments. Depending again on the school and its geographic location and if it's in the inner city, security guards or police may be in place.

Communication is also critical to this user. Intercoms, some IP and other means of communicating to and from classrooms and with teachers, is increasingly deployed. Audiovisual systems and even theatres and soundstages are part of the solutions integrators may provide.

On college campuses and universities, users are driving the use of IP technology. They not only use it as a proactive tool but for managing the vast campus landscape in many different ways. Cards (proximity, magnetic stripe and some smart-types) that combine access control with spending and debits are also more commonplace and merge physical security with logical data management.

Community merges with campus

The larger university also has an on-campus population and a good mix of bars and other areas where large crowds may congregate or hold rallies. If the community is inset or nearby this educational facility, this further presents challenges of crowd control and requires proactive measures to prevent riots and planning for the possibility of terrorist activities.

Conduit Networks of Temecula, Calif., was the integrator on a recent HD megapixel network camera installation at two Redlands Unified School District High Schools, where the company deployed more than 100 IQEye cameras from IQinVision to improve safety and deter possible incidents.

The Redlands Unified School District serves the communities of Redlands, Loma Linda, Mentone, San Bernardino, Yucaipa, and East Highland. Planning for the future, Redlands Unified began upgrading the District's network backbone in 2004. As the upgrade progressed, the School Superintendent indicated that he wanted to upgrade and expand the use of video surveillance and Redlands High School, the oldest high school in California to occupy the same location, was the first location targeted.

"By mid-2007, we now had the network infrastructure in place to fully implement an IP video surveillance system," said David Massaro, coordinator, Technology Services for Redlands Unified.

Force multiplier for security

At Citrus Valley High School, one of the schools in the district, Sergeant Dan Kivett and his staff are in charge of safety and security for the 2,500 students and personnel. "With the on-going state budget cuts, this system gives us another six pairs of eyes," Kivett explained. At any one time, Kivett has three full-time officers on campus and one staff member monitoring video from the security office six hours a day during school hours. The video acts as a force multiplier by enabling monitoring staff to quickly identify a potential incident, zoom in to get accurate information and then direct officers to assist. "During each lunch period, we've 1,200 students spread out over a 60-acre campus-the video helps make much more of the campus visible and it allows us to handle any disputes quickly," Kivett said.

Emergency communications and mass notification systems continue to be increasingly deployed by all levels of the market. One of the more recent avenues of funding came from The Emergency Management for Higher Education (EMHE) grant program, which is designed to develop, or review and improve, and fully integrate a campus-wide all-hazards emergency management plan that takes into account threats that may be unique to the campus. And while the grant application period for EMHE just ended last month, word is the program may reopen.

"There are a number of these types of awards and this one in particular could be opened up again," said Pete Tately, mass notification program manager for Siemens Building Technologies, Florham Park, N.J., who added that managing the grant process and the follow up can be intensive for the contractor. He said the EMHE grant program focused on emergency communications but some grants may be listed simply under "communications" or other areas. "There's art and skill to writing a grant and then there's an audit process as well to manage.

Notification of events

Tately said the market for Emergency Communications Systems is extremely active. (The 2010 edition of NFPA 72, the National Fire Alarm Code, has a new chapter on mass notification, referred to as Emergency Communications Systems.)

"We anticipate the market growing significantly over the next several years regarding how we communicate in emergencies. The education market has been slower to adopt because of the economy, especially for ECS in K-12, but there is a lot of discussion by the end user on the topic," Tately said. He said certain entities, more so in the higher levels than the K-12 market, are making purchases.

"The K-12 market is a bit different as far as the applications being deployed. The real activity is in higher education; it's the sweet spot for ECS solutions," he said. The issue of intelligibility as required by the 2010 code is another area that may need to be required in systems installations in the education market. Siemens is also closely following the The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act or Clery Act, which may have some impact and require ECS systems in universities, but the exact parameters are still in question, Tately said.

New threats and concerns

Threats at schools and on campuses have changed. Today, bullying has morphed into cyber bullying. Other concerns at schools include the very real dangers of child and student abduction. Extended families and estranged spouses may also sometimes be a volatile mix that has to be addressed. Even in the rural

10,000 population area served by the Excelsior Springs Schools District in Missouri, there are similar new age threats to address.

Tom Mayfield has experienced some of these situations named above at the Excelsior Springs Schools. He has the technology-and the authority-to mandate a lockdown at any or all of the schools in the system when necessary and the situation has come up. Mayfield is the director of Safety and Security for the Excelsior Springs Schools and a specialist in School Administration.

Community comes knocking

"We had an incident just a few weeks ago when we had to initiate a lockdown to assure the students were safe," Mayfield said. Mayfield said he also has a 'mantrap' at the school entrance which isolates potential problems.

Some of the other concerns of the school district, which has deployed some 165 cameras and covers seven schools over 84 square miles, include bullying and cyber bullying as well as threats of intruders.

"One of our everyday concerns is intruders in the building; that's always top of mind," he said. The school has a networked video and access control system that allows for lockdowns and remote access and control. "We got our security in at the right time and we are glad to have it, because there's really no funding coming to schools right now," he continued. "We are looking to add a couple PTZ cameras to certain locations though," he added.

Upgrades of campus security are putting these facilities in touch with the latest technologies. When administrators at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Business Administration decided to upgrade their 50-year-old structure, they had two goals: preserve the history associated with the building and installing a technology infrastructure that complemented the college's philosophy or culture of innovation.

The college took an innovative approach in designing and securing the new James A. Haslam II Business Building, a $40 million, 174,000-square-foot facility. The building design incorporates numerous "huddle" areas for informal meetings and more than 40 meeting rooms for project work, many with LCD screens and high-definition video capabilities. With more than $6 million invested in audiovisual equipment alone, it was essential that the university implement a comprehensive security and access control system.
Setting up a system for reserving the rooms, while also ensuring student and building access security, was a significant challenge. And for that, Ramsey Valentine, director of technology for the College of Business, needed something more than a database system. Simplex-Grinnell was the integrator on the project.

"We needed a way for students to reserve rooms and get access without a phone call, without having to carry a second student ID card, and without having to manage another account, and do so while interfacing with multiple campus systems," explained Valentine. Above all, whatever scheduling system the college chose had to be convenient for everyone, using Internet access, existing student IDs, passwords and known campus ID cards.

Gallagher and its Cardax FT system was chosen as the access control platform because of its open architecture, application programming interface and the flexibility and accessibility of its software developer's kit.

The system manages access to particular rooms by authorized individuals during a given window of time. This is accomplished through touch-screen kiosks with integrated card reader technology. For example, students attending class at the business school can only access the designated classroom during the scheduled class time. Otherwise, the student will be allowed into the building, but only to access common areas.

The education vertical market has opportunities across the board. The systems integrator who can present an integrated solution, upgrade a legacy account without a high capital expense and consult on the best way to get a good return on investment for the user will land the job hands down.

North Union Local School-Integration is Essential

North Union Local School District in Richwood, Ohio, serves approximately 1,500 students in grades preschool through grade 12 on a campus comprised of one elementary school, a new middle school and high school.

North Union just built a new middle school and recently finished a new addition on its high school. Five years ago, a security system was installed in the new elementary school, but administrators were disappointed with its video quality and lack of features. The completion of the high school renovation prompted them to look for a new solution.

Being in a rural county and conscious of the ever-changing school environment, North Union administrators conducted a comprehensive training session with Union County's first responders. A simulated shooter and student actors were used to enact a school shooting. The simulation demonstrated how school officials and first responders would respond. The exercise demonstrated the school's weaknesses and helped determine what security procedures and technology were needed to keep students safe.

As a result, district administrators learned they must limit access. Students must enter through one set of doors, and camera coverage should be literally everywhere, including the parking lots and in the back of the school.

The simulation taught administrators that to achieve their goals, they needed to have video recording, video storage and integration with a DMP intrusion system in place.

"North Union wanted a state-of-the-art system that had the capacity to do whatever they wanted it to do," said Johnson Controls Inc. Lead Systems Specialist, Michael J. McGlone. "Full integration with DMP alarm panels was important, but the highest priority was the video recording capability."

North Union installed an AMAG Technology Symmetry Enterprise Security Management System with Symmetry Video Management. Approximately 130 fixed dome and pan/tilt/zoom network cameras from Axis Communications were placed on this networked system to provide an "eyes everywhere" security system for the high school. The new middle school installed 110 cameras. The district chose specific models for their rugged, vandal resistant construction and high image quality, as well as their motion detection capabilities. Symmetry Video Management software records video and it is stored in a 40 terabyte Nexan unit. Johnson Controls was the integrator-installer of the system

An authorized staff member arms and disarms the system every day before students and staff arrive. When buses arrive in the morning, the high school front doors open for 20 minutes to allow students to enter. Then all doors are locked from the inside for the remainder of the day.

"The secretarial entrance has double doors with a vestibule. After the doors are locked for the day, people push a button to be buzzed in the vestibule and then buzzed into the office," said North Union Local School District, Director of Technology, Pam Earp. "An image is shown on a screen and the school secretary can decide whether or not to buzz the person through."

Staff members wear ID badges that are used to gain access to the school's exterior doors. Interior hallways are secured with over 30 motion detectors that integrate with AMAG's Symmetry System. The office utilizes door contacts on every door and motion detectors for protection.

Parents and business people who need to only visit the high school office are not required to obtain a badge, however substitute teachers, contractors and volunteers are required to sign in and obtain cards to properly identify themselves and show they are permitted in the school building.

The principal and assistant principal monitor certain cameras at all times in their offices. They picked the areas of the school they felt needed more monitoring including hallways, stairwells, and the school parking lot.

Getting to the action

PTZ network cameras sit outside the high school and middle school to monitor the football field, parking lots and areas between the buildings so staff can use them to easily track and identify students involved in suspicious behavior. As a result, administrators have been able to reduce fighting and smoking outside, and to monitor students walking back and forth between buildings for tutoring.

Teachers are required to wear the ID card, which doubles as their access card. As an added convenience, all staff was given a key fob to put on their key ring.

"We found that the staff often left their cards on their desks, and therefore it was easier to also provide a key fob for their key ring," said Earp. "Since everyone has their keys when they enter the building, it just made sense. The teachers love the convenience of using either card or key fob."

North Union was pleased with the system before it was fully up and running. The first time the system recorded, administrators witnessed a fight in the hallway. One student drew on a stairwell wall and had a big grin on his face as he looked right at the camera.

"Once word got around that students were getting caught, it greatly reduced drawing on the walls and sneaking out," said JCI's McGlone. "The system is creating a more well-behaved student population and it's great for the assistant principal."