Eyes Wide Open

New technology enables better school security

ADT’s National Back to School Security Survey, a sampling of nearly 2,000 parents, indicates nearly 50 percent of parents are concerned their child could be targeted by a sexual predator at school; close to 40 percent are concerned about potential abduction from school; and more than a third fear a violent episode at school. With those statistics, it is not surprising that many parents say they would support spending more money on security measures for their school.

Despite the limited budgets of state and local governments, communities are finding ways to upgrade their security systems and use the latest technology to support their security plans. Upgrading to security systems using megapixel IP cameras with ultra-wide angle lenses can be cost effective by reducing the number of cameras and eliminating cabling and DVRs without sacrificing video surveillance area.

Simple and Stable
One example is the Murrieta Valley, Calif., Unified School District. At one of the district’s high schools, a security system upgrade would remove all 170 existing analog cameras and replace them with 43 megapixel cameras with ultra-wide-angle lenses from Theia Technologies. One of the main concerns in ensuring the safety of students and staff is the system’s reliability.

“The analog system was always breaking down, and there were too many cameras to manage,” said Bill Olien, assistant superintendent of the Murrieta school district. “The new system will be much simpler and less costly to maintain and monitor.”

In the fall of 2007, the district hired Johnson Consulting Engineers, located in Poway, Calif., to survey and assess the district’s needs. The engineering firm specializes in the design of electrical and technology systems for schools and has designed systems for more than 1,000 schools in California and Arizona. After assessment of the installed system, the firm was retained to design a new video security system.

The school district funded a districtwide video security system upgrade through a local bond. Implementation of the project, worth more than $1 million, began in September and will be completed in March 2009.

Improved Coverage
The district’s first priority was safety. In terms of system goals, that meant designing a system that would provide greater coverage with improved image clarity over the current analog system. A typical analog camera and lens has a narrow coverage area, or if it does cover a wider area, the resolution is so poor that the image would not be able to provide a legally acceptable description of people should the need arise.

A major factor in the design was ensuring adequate camera coverage for all areas without inundating the system with too many cameras.

John Frisbie, JCE vice president, said they designed the system around IQinVision’s megapixel cameras and Theia Technologies’ ultra-wide-angle lens. Before specifying this combination, they tested the lens-camera combination and compared it directly against a typical analog pairing.

“What’s remarkable about the system we’ve designed is that with Theia’s wideangle high-resolution lens, we can cover the same area more cost effectively,” Frisbie said. The lens, which provides a 135-degree horizontal field of view, uses a patented linear optical technology to optically correct the barrel (fish eye) distortion found in other wide-angle lenses, without any software.

“Theia’s lens allows you to consistently cover a very large area and digitally zoom in 60 to 70 feet to get an image that allows a legal description,” Frisbie said. “No other lens can do this.”

The combination of high-megapixel resolution, up to 5 megapixels with the wide-angle lens, provides more pixels per degree of image, allowing an end user to zoom in without pixelation. PTZ cameras used in other systems allow the user to zoom but fail to capture a large area continuously. Post-event zooming is not possible. PTZ cameras miss areas of coverage while panning, while a wide-angle fixed view captures the entire area.

IP-based video systems are more effective than analog systems because of ease of use. With analog technology, systems have more pieces of equipment and are more complicated. Besides long lengths of cabling, low-resolution video monitors, and many cameras and lenses, they require DVRs to record images from each camera. School district staff would have to log onto each DVR locally, then access a specific camera to monitor activity. With digital IP video systems, separate DVRs are not required.

A Workable Solution
Authorized school staff can use any district computer that is programmed with system software to easily view and manage any camera on the system. This improves system uptime and access, enabling greater security for students and staff in both prevention and incident response situations. Datatel Wiring Products will provide equipment installation, training and ongoing technical support for three years. Datatel, of Riverside, Calif., is a certified installer that was awarded the contract following a competitive bid in July.

One thing to keep in mind is that “high megapixel resolution cameras used in IP systems require servers capable of handling multiple terabytes of data,” said E.B. DelaCobas of Datatel.

The system will use a total of 19 servers, with two having up to 6 TB of data storage capacity each, while the rest will have 2 TB each with additional backup storage of up to 10 TB.

In the long run, the robust and capable system specified will allow the Murrieta district to achieve their system performance goals, ensuring greater security and cost effectiveness.

This article originally appeared in the issue of .


  • Maximizing Your Security Budget This Year

    7 Ways You Can Secure a High-Traffic Commercial Security Gate  

    Your commercial security gate is one of your most powerful tools to keep thieves off your property. Without a security gate, your commercial perimeter security plan is all for nothing. Read Now

  • Making Safety and Security Intrinsic to School Design

    Public anxieties about school safety are escalating across the country. According to a 2023 Gallup report, 44% of parents fear for their child’s physical safety at school, a 10 percentage-point increase since 2019. Unfortunately, these fears are likely to increase if the incidence of school tragedies continues to mount. As a result, school leaders are now charged with two non-negotiable responsibilities. The first, as always, is to ensure kids have what they need to learn, grow, and thrive. Sadly, their second responsibility is to keep the children in their care safe from threats and physical danger. Read Now

  • The Power of a Layered Approach to Safety

    In a perfect world, every school would have an unlimited budget to help secure their schools. In reality, schools must prioritize what budget they have while navigating the complexities surrounding school security and lockdown. Read Now

  • How a Security System Can Enhance Arena Safety and the Fan Experience

    Ensuring guests have both a memorable experience and a safe one is no small feat for your physical security team. Stadiums, ballparks, arenas, and other large event venues are increasingly leveraging new technologies to transform the fan experience and maintain a high level of security. The goal is to preserve the integrity and excitement of the event while enhancing security and remaining “behind the scenes.” Read Now

Featured Cybersecurity


New Products

  • ResponderLink


    Shooter Detection Systems (SDS), an Alarm.com company and a global leader in gunshot detection solutions, has introduced ResponderLink, a groundbreaking new 911 notification service for gunshot events. ResponderLink completes the circle from detection to 911 notification to first responder awareness, giving law enforcement enhanced situational intelligence they urgently need to save lives. Integrating SDS’s proven gunshot detection system with Noonlight’s SendPolice platform, ResponderLink is the first solution to automatically deliver real-time gunshot detection data to 911 call centers and first responders. When shots are detected, the 911 dispatching center, also known as the Public Safety Answering Point or PSAP, is contacted based on the gunfire location, enabling faster initiation of life-saving emergency protocols. 3

  • Luma x20

    Luma x20

    Snap One has announced its popular Luma x20 family of surveillance products now offers even greater security and privacy for home and business owners across the globe by giving them full control over integrators’ system access to view live and recorded video. According to Snap One Product Manager Derek Webb, the new “customer handoff” feature provides enhanced user control after initial installation, allowing the owners to have total privacy while also making it easy to reinstate integrator access when maintenance or assistance is required. This new feature is now available to all Luma x20 users globally. “The Luma x20 family of surveillance solutions provides excellent image and audio capture, and with the new customer handoff feature, it now offers absolute privacy for camera feeds and recordings,” Webb said. “With notifications and integrator access controlled through the powerful OvrC remote system management platform, it’s easy for integrators to give their clients full control of their footage and then to get temporary access from the client for any troubleshooting needs.” 3

  • Camden CV-7600 High Security Card Readers

    Camden CV-7600 High Security Card Readers

    Camden Door Controls has relaunched its CV-7600 card readers in response to growing market demand for a more secure alternative to standard proximity credentials that can be easily cloned. CV-7600 readers support MIFARE DESFire EV1 & EV2 encryption technology credentials, making them virtually clone-proof and highly secure. 3