It’s a super-hot vertical market and the end-user is looking for all kinds of solutions. Above all, however, the customer is looking for a systems integrator who can deliver a consultative approach that will result in a system that’s robust, scalable, manageable and easily adaptable for the future.
There is some federal grant money for safe schools and Department of Homeland Security funding on the national and state levels, but integrators have to do a lot of homework to be looking for it. There are some shovel-ready projects that may also be launched, but in all, the end-user is cost-conscious and looking at the value of the system today and how it will scale up with them in the future.
In the K-12 market, integrated access control and intercoms and communication are a given, but many of these protected premises are moving heavily into IP, especially as the price gap continues to narrow between digital and analog. In higher institutions, emergency and mass notification are big, in addition to cameras and access control-- integrated with vending and other school debit transactions.
State of the market
U.S. ports, which have been reluctant or have been moving slowly in implementing biometric security, could learn a lesson from one school in the Washington D.C.-area that is using cutting-edge technology – the same approved by the TSA to secure ports – to verify a person’s identity even before they even make it to the front door.
The Boyd School in Sterling, Va., is using biometric technology to identify a parent or guardian and whether they are authorized to pick up or drop off a child. The system, called BioSafe,was developed in collaboration with Identica, Tampa, Fla., and integrator New Year Tech Inc., Reston, Va.
BioSafe is a biometric access control system that identifies authorized or unauthorized parents or guardians. The system is currently running in one building and is being expanded system wide to another facility that is under construction.
“Keeping our students safe and secure is our primary concern,” said Mary Ann Woolsey, co-owner of The Boyd School, an independent Montessori school serving children at seven different locations in Northern Virginia.
“The modern family is not always made up of solely a mom and a dad; it becomes increasingly difficult to keep track of who is authorized to pick up a child just by visually supervising the process,” she said. “The BioSafe program assures us that every individual who is picking up or dropping off a child has been positively identified, creating a safe environment.”
BioSafe incorporates Identica’s vascular pattern recognition technology. “The flow of traffic in a school building can at times be bustling, especially during the morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up,” said Soy Chu, New Year Tech president and CEO. “It’s vital for the administration and staff to not only be assured that the parent or guardian has been verified, but also to know where the student is at all times.”
Identica’s vascular readers enroll a new user in seconds. Once enrolled, a parent or guardian presents their hand to match against the stored template, a process that takes 0.1 seconds to complete.
On the surveillance side, universities especially are moving to IP technology. At the Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) in Lisbon, Portugal, the end-user opted to install campuswide a 50-camera CCTV system based on IndigoVision’s IP Video technology. IST is Portugal’s School of Engineering, Science & Technology and is part of the Technical University of Lisbon. The system was installed by the university’s engineering team in partnership with IndigoVision’s Authorized Partner, integrator Vigilarme, IST.
Important to the end-user at the university was a flexible and scalable system that could be easily expanded in the future. Video quality, integrity and data security were also criteria for its selection. The campus consists of 16 buildings and surrounding grounds, covering an area in excess of 650,000 square feet. The university was ideal for an IP-based CCTV solution as it already had its own fiber-based network covering the campus.