Integrators: Go to the head of the class

The education market gets technology assistance from solutions providers

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.

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