Our nation's schools should be a safe zone where students and educators feel secure learning and teaching in a crime-free environment. One way to ensure that level of security is to proactively implement a surveillance system that meets present security standards and anticipates future needs without disrupting the educational process.
The Northside Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas looked for a surveillance system that could easily and quickly scale to fit their ongoing safety and security needs. District administrators found a network video solution to be the right choice over an analog closed-circuit television (CCTV) system because of the flexibility it provided. Before coming to this conclusion, the school district had to undergo an analysis to understand the extent and nature of its security issues and identify security gaps from school to school.
Making Sense of It All
The Northside Independent School District is comprised of 12 high schools, 14 middle schools and 57 elementary schools. In addition, a new middle school is planned for later this year. One of the school district's first steps in assessing security needs was to review existing security measures and systems at each of the high schools.
Overall, district officials found disparate systems that were inconsistent and inadequate. Some high schools had a few cameras in place while others had none at all, and the cameras in place were being used varied in capabilities. Most importantly, the cameras were not used strategically to maximize performance. In addition, each school used different vendors with different maintenance contracts, making it very difficult to manage and support at the district-wide level.
The Northside Independent School District decided it was time to start fresh and went to the local community for support. A school bond package was presented to voters and received overwhelming approval. With the necessary funding in place, the district moved forward investigating video surveillance and access control options available to achieve their primary goal of ensuring the safety and security of students and staff. They also knew they wanted an updated system that would provide district police after-hours support in response to alarms and suspicious activities and/or thefts. The school district also wanted to be able to use video to help identify perpetrators and to monitor staff access control systems in order to ensure appropriate access was granted to personnel entering school facilities.
In addition, the Northside Independent School District wanted a surveillance system that was centrally supported. School officials wanted school police to be able to remotely view video from the district's police station at the same time the video was also accessible to the Central Office administrative officials.
In reviewing their options, school district leaders felt it was an opportune time to leverage their robust Gigabit Metro Area Network (GigaMAN), which connects local area networks (LANs) in a metropolitan area using fiber-optic Ethernet connections. After careful analysis and research, district officials decided their needs could be met by an IP-based system.
One Down, Eleven to Go
LenSec, an industry leader in developing highly scalable and web-based, custom surveillance solutions, was selected as the total solution provider for the network-based surveillance system. During the summer of 2005, standard design criteria was created by a cross-functional team comprised of facilities staff, technical services staff, district police, a risk management team and campus administration from John Jay High School, the test school for the entire system.