Pennsylvania school installs D-Link solutions

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, CA--(Marketwire - February 10, 2009) - When SUN Area Career & Technology Center was seeking to replace its unreliable, crash-prone analog video surveillance system, it turned to D-Link for sophisticated Internet Protocol (IP) based security cameras and network switches for improved functionality, reliability and clarity without breaking the bank.

"The old camera system recorded frames at four to five frames a second, which didn't capture detail very well. It only allowed us to record two weeks of video before archiving, because the drive for that system could store only 60MB," said Tom Gray, network administrator at SUN. "We'd often realize that data was missing because the cameras were down. And it was a proprietary system that took a lot of time and effort to manage."

Located in New Berlin, Penn., SUN Area Career & Technology Center offers adult education classes, vocational education, and technical career training to more than 1500 people each year. The facility is dedicated to providing students with the skills needed to compete in today's job market and receive consideration for advanced college placement.

When seeking a new security system, SUN took its cue from another school -- Central Penn Institute -- that had recently deployed D-Link cameras and was very happy with the results. "We were impressed with the quality of the network cameras, and we realized we could get the number of cameras we needed with D-Link's pricing," said Gray. "Cost alone made it very attractive for us, especially considering the benefits it provided."

SUN purchased 23 D-Link DCS-1110 Power over Ethernet (PoE) network cameras, and networked them using three D-Link DES-3828P PoE managed stackable switches. "The PoE switches allowed us to put the cameras anywhere without worrying about electrical connections," said Gray. The cameras are all high-quality color devices that SUN runs at 10 frames per second for image quality and storage optimization, which he says is "significantly faster" than the old analog system.

Gray evaluated network cameras from Sony and Axis Communications. "Budget was a big issue for us," said Gray, "and those options were just too expensive. We could have gone small with the other vendors, but then we wouldn't have been able to purchase the number of cameras we needed for appropriate coverage."

"The D-Link cameras are perfect for hallway coverage," said Gray. The school now has reliable, court-quality video as visual evidence for disciplinary infractions. The students know that the cameras are recording 24X7, which helps curb unwanted behavior.

With the D-Link system, SUN doesn't need to hire security personnel to monitor surveillance screens. They record everything to a 2TB server that includes five SATA drives in a RAID configuration. The storage can handle an entire school year of recordings. The MPEG files generated by the cameras are easy to copy onto CD or DVD, and can be immediately played back for court, parents or anyone else that has a Microsoft Media Player installed on their computer.

"Since we're already network specialists here in the IT department, the whole system is easy to manage," said Gray. "A network-friendly system like D-Link's helps us reduce the amount of time we spend managing equipment. There's really not much that we have to do. That's important when you have so much other work to do supporting the network and the users."

Gray's group manages telephony, unified messaging, network cameras, user support and more. Since their budget was so limited, Gray's team performed the network camera installation with their in-house staff. "It was easy," said Gray. "We did all the work ourselves over a two week period during the summer break. But it didn't really take two weeks. We'd pick it up and then do other maintenance and installation tasks in parallel."

The PoE switches are connected to 1GB fiber, and the security system itself is on its own network separate from the data and voice networks. There are zero conflicts. Gray recommends that prospective D-Link customers test the system so they can see what's possible with the cameras. SUN tested several cameras before rolling the full implementation.

What little support SUN required from D-Link went well. "When I had a problem or questions, D-Link provided an engineer I could talk to so I could make informed decisions," explained Gray. "Since we implemented the D-Link gear, all my analog headaches are gone. We have no problems or issues with the security system, and we're really happy with it."

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