Covering 300 square miles over three Michigan counties, the Traverse City Area Public School District (TCAPS) houses more than 10,000 K-12 students and 1,300 teachers and support staff every day during the school year. The district spans 26 buildings, including 13 elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools, an alternative high school and multiple facilities management buildings, with more than 2 million total square feet of roof cover.
Recently, the school decided to upgrade its security system to connect all 26 buildings together on one network. A full-scale solution was needed since each school previously had a standalone system. Paul Mahon, Director of Construction and Maintenance for TCAPS, partnered with CommTech Design to design the completely integrated solution, supported by a Milestone video management system as its central hub.
“We’ve worked with multiple solutions over the years, each deploying its own standalone presence with pros and cons,” Mahon says. “Installing a district-wide solution that’s easy to use, scalable and supports our multiple levels of security ensures the safety of our students and staff, which was the number one priority for this project.”
Plans were drawn for a full-scale federated security solution, which included video streaming, alarm management, access control via card access systems, emergency panic lockdown abilities, video synchronization for all the above, and the ability to control each system centrally.
Bret Emerson was the assigned consultant from CommTech and worked on the TCAPS design. He spent weeks surveying the buildings to determine the best solution for the district’s needs and ensuring the district made the best security technology decisions for the safety of each campus. “TCAPS was quite a large-scale design — we had to understand the intricacies of not just one building, but 26 structures that were all unique in their own needs,” Emerson explains.
“A vast amount of engineering had to be examined, dealing with the different wiring, ceiling setups and potential monitoring station locations in each of the 26 buildings,” he continues. “We wanted a comprehensive solution that offered multiple levels of security, allowing video surveillance to be integrated seamlessly into all aspects of the district. An off-the-shelf solution wouldn’t have given us such an open, easy-to-use system.”
After Emerson’s report on the system’s architecture and design, TCAPS contracted with Windemuller Electric to provide the customized solution, including access control, lockdown and alarm systems. NETech, subcontracted through Windemuller, integrated the Milestone solution, ensuring the VMS core of the implementation was perfectly tuned for the district.
Before the VMS was installed, TCAPS completed Phase I of the security overhaul with an older technology, and the resulting video solution did not meet the requirements of the designed system.
Phase II brought in Milestone’s engineering staff and the supplier’s XProtect VMS. The software was implemented quickly in the school settings, minimizing interruption or confusion with the installation team and administrators tasked with monitoring the hundreds of cameras.
A total of 685 cameras were set up in TCAPS, 397 of which were part of Phase II by NETech. Panasonic’s IP WV-Sw355, WV-SW395 and WV-SF366 cameras were installed throughout the entire district, in addition to two Arecont AV8185 IP cameras — the open platform VMS enabled the freedom of choice in selecting hardware devices.