Success Stories: Education

A roundup of recent unique security applications and installations


Florida State Adds to its Blue Light Trail

Florida State University (FSU) takes pride in its intellectually stimulating, yet warm and caring environment for students and faculty. Safety of students and guests is paramount on the school’s 15 campuses to maintain that environment, and one of the major public safety initiatives on FSU’s campuses is the Blue Light Trail, which now consists of more than 400 strategically placed blue light towers equipped with emergency phones.

The blue light emergency phone towers give passers-by a sense of security by providing a reliable two-way communications link with the FSU Police with a push of a button. The technology is not new, but has proven to be invaluable on more than one occasion. The number of blue light emergency phones keeps growing as the safety needs of the campus grow, and university officials have chosen to standardize on Talk-a-Phone units.

FSU had a variety of blue light emergency phones installed on campuses from other manufacturers, and having multiple vendors on-site enabled officials to thoroughly test the blue light emergency phones before standardizing.

The towers on the Blue Light Trail are painted in FSU school colors garnet with gold lettering on all four sides to reinforce the identity of the campus. They are ultra-bright all-LED Blue Lights, featuring 209 lumens peak rating and prismatic pattern to enhance visibility at greater distances. All-LED construction of the unit significantly increases its life span.

Thunderstorms and lightning are also a major concern for school safety officals. Located in Tallahassee, Fla., FSU’s 15 campuses are in the heart of a thunderstorm-riddled region, leading the nation in an average lightning density per square foot. Needless to say, having a reliable emergency communications link is significant from both a legal and a public relations perspective.

In the interest of safety for all facility, staff, students and visitors, a comprehensive Emergency Phone Program was developed at FSU. As part of this program, a full-time employee was hired whose responsibility was to test and repair the blue light emergency phones in case of lightning outages. “While all phones are fitted with the same external surge protection, the Talk-A-Phone units are repairable when a surge is sufficient to get through the protection device,” says Colleen Thomas of FSU’s Office of Telecommunications.

Salisbury University Transitions to IP-Based Surveillance

Salisbury University in Maryland has installed approximately 200 Axis Communications network cameras in a new surveillance system on its 182-acre campus in Maryland, home to more than 8,000 students. OnSSI’s video management software delivers instant access to real-time or archived video from any of the cameras.

“We were looking for a complete system comprised of technologies that work well together and that will take us beyond what’s available today,” says Tony Stancil, Associate Director for Information Technology at Salisbury University.

The university’s expanding system will have a total of 300 network cameras by the summer of 2011. “We are in the infancy of this system,” adds Lt. Brian Waller of the Salisbury University Police Department. “Our abilities with the system will increase exponentially over time.”

Previously, the campus had several separate, non-networked video systems. When surveillance video helped to solve a $30,000 burglary, it provided the impetus to upgrade to a campus-wide, networked system. Originally, 78 cameras were installed in a pedestrian tunnel and parking garage, and more cameras have been added around the campus, all connected to the university’s IP network. Currently, there are close to 200 network cameras in all, a number that is still increasing.

The IP-based system is running on four servers with an external RAID storage array providing 3 terabytes of storage for each server, which translates into about 20 days of storage. The system is monitored in the campus police dispatch center, with security officers also monitoring cameras in the parking garage.

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