Serious Campus Security

Today’s economic times may lead many executive decision makers in the security industry to play it safe or ride out the recession without taking up any risky business ventures. Lower attendance at industry tradeshows, company employee cutbacks and lower forecasts by major market firms on particular aspects of the security industry are just a few of the changes that we have seen for 2009 and predicted forecasts going into 2010.

Despite mixed expectations on whether the security industry will continue to see the affects of the recession or experience positive changes going into 2010, security in the education sector is definitely seeing some improvements with the help of federal stimulus money coming in. According to a New York Times report released in April, the $787 billion economic stimulus law includes about $100 billion the Department of Education started sending to states earlier this year for spending over two years for public schools, universities and child care centers. More than half comes in a $54 billion fiscal stabilization fund for states.

“Many public schools from both the K-12 and higher education sector are benefiting from stimulus and Department of Homeland Security funding.” said Ron Douglas, sales representative for the Northeast Region, Verint Systems Inc., Melville, N.Y., a provider of analytics software-based solutions for workforce-enterprise optimization and security. “Verint works with customers to identify needs and then provides both software and hardware products which have been certified by the Department of Homeland Security to fill these. Although the majority of these funds are being used for infrastructure – roads, bridges and tunnels – much of the dollars that I see are going towards school systems.”

In the case of the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, it was clear that the current analog video surveillance system they had in place did not provide such a full portfolio solution. For Paul Perrone, senior information technologist at the university, the choice to upgrade their analog system to an IP-based infrastructure was one that would bring much reward in the long run.

“Some of the challenges that we had were a failed analog system that no one had any responsibility to manage and administer,” said Perrone. “I’m new to the university so coming on board I readily saw some of the apparent challenges we’ve had on the CCTV side which prompted me to move in the IP direction. And in moving in that direction, I realized that this system was going to be the most robust, scaleable and high-performing solution for us.”

Bridge to IP

To replace the former DVR platform the university had in place, system integrator Galaxy Integrated Technologies Inc., an independently owned and operated company, Brighton, Mass., installed Verint System’s Nextiva IP Video Management software, along with Nextiva S1708e 8-channel encoders. The initial phase of the analog to IP video migration deployed in June at the University of Rhode Island’s main campus in Kingston featured a full realm of security operations, including monitoring and recording activity at parking lots, buildings and walkways, as well as controlling restricted areas.

According to Douglas, the Nextiva S1708E 8 channel digital video encoders were installed to capture, compress and stream the existing video into the network. Verint’s S1970E-R decoders were used to pull video out of the network and display it on analog monitors so it converts that IP video back to analog video, allowing the university to have the use of analog monitors and joysticks in the command center to treat a virtual matrix. “This reduced the footprint of existing hardware so that they had lower requirements for racking and storage in the control room, saving space overall,” said Douglas. In addition, the existing analog cameras were retained, helping cut additional costs for the university. Nextiva’s software includes the capability to enhance and increase the contrast and improve the saturation of the colors, helping to extend the life of these existing cameras by improving the video quality generated.

“The IP surveillance really provided us with a bridge to enter the digital world with a high performance, low cost video and monitoring system,” explained Perrone. “It definitely allowed us to leverage our existing infrastructure providing a true turnkey system. Some of the major deciding factors were: ease of use; advanced search capabilities; improved compression storage; and with no image degradation.”

For the university, the decision to go with Verint’s Nextiva platform stemmed from an initial meeting between Perrone and Angelo Girginis, account manager for Galaxy Integrated Technologies. In inquiring about what video systems were available to be implemented at the university, it wasn’t long before Perrone got in touch with Douglas from Verint Systems and through a bidding process which systems integrator Galaxy won, the installation of the IP system at the university began to unfold.

“The whole process was a wonderful way of transitioning from analog to the IP world,” said Paul Reen, project manager for Galaxy Integrated Technologies. “It was a learning curve for the school but they adjusted and the support of Galaxy’s IT department and Verint made the system run smoothly.”

Douglas explained that the deployment of IP video has become very attractive to educational institutions because it eliminates the need for individual recorders at each school. “They can take advantage of the network that exists between the facilities and that way they can centralize their storage and administrative functions for video recording and user management and reduce the costs of deployment by providing the infrastructure and sometimes the hardware (the servers in storage) using their own state contracts for manufacturers of hardware. That reduces the overall capital expenditure for a school system and helps enhance the value of existing infrastructure,” he said.

According to Perrone, some unforeseen challenges that presented themselves in the upgrade phase were overcome with system tweaks but the persistence and dedication of the integrator were critical to the success of the deployment.

The state of IP video surveillance

According to a recent report released by IMS Research, Wellingborough, England, reliability is the most important factor driving the decision to use IP-based security technology. Based on a wide-ranging survey of European integrators and installers of IP-based security products, the research found that meeting customer requirements and the ability to future proof installations were key to decisions to go with an IP infrastructure. And although anticipated growth in IP system installations is a little off from initial double-digit percentage projections from IMS first predicted about one year ago, it’s still an extremely robust market.

“As the cost of IP cameras continues to come down, fewer people will consider analog because of the lack of a price difference and because there are so many additional security and related management benefits to using IP,” said Douglas.

As developing technology continues to drive the video surveillance market, coupled with stimulus funding, the education market is already transitioning to full-service video solutions for campuswide security, and IP will continue to be a part of that growth.

By Natalia Kosk

Feature-Rich System Specification

Here are some highlighted features of the installed system at the University of Rhode Island:

  • Verint’s Nextiva s1708e eight-channel digital video encoders
  • Verint’s S1970E-R decoders
  • HP server provided by the University of Rhode Island and used for recording video
  • Dell workstations provided by the University of Rhode Island to review client parameters and display a map of the campus

Project Partners

Systems Integrator—Galaxy Integrated Technologies,

End-User/Owner—University of Rhode Island,

Manufacturer—Verint Systems Inc.,