Kentucky School District Sees Results With Upgraded Security Technology

The Whitley County School District in southeastern Kentucky recently installed some of the latest surveillance technology on all its buildings.

It now has a more than 70 security cameras monitoring those who are entering and exiting buildings, during and after hours. The cameras compliment the district’s anonymous tip hotline, the two-way radio communications system in place throughout the district and the collaboration with local law enforcement -- ensuring top-notch safety and security in and around campuses.

Needless to say, the proactive approach to safety and scalable technology integration is prevalent, as outlined in this excerpt from their Whitley County District Report Card.

A key component of school safety in our district is a partnership with law enforcement officials providing collaboration in the event of violent/disruptive behaviors on school property. A sheriff's deputy is assigned to our district and maintains high visibility in our schools. Violence/drug prevention, character education, and life skills curriculums have been adopted. A tracking system monitors discipline offenses. Many elementary site-based councils adhere to clear student backpack policies. Security cameras monitor hallways and entrances both during and after school hours.

“Our system began with one school resource officer and has now increased to two,” said Jamie Fuson, communications manager for the district. “The school district and the Whitley County Sheriff's office work in partnership through cost share to employ both officers. Our main campus is also overseen by a security officer who closely monitors those entering and exiting the buildings and grounds.”

The school system received a grant that allowed for system upgrades.

District officials purchased a networked system that can be accessed from anywhere on the district network.

“If an administrator is at the Central Office for a meeting they can access the security system at their school if needed,” Fuson said. “The new systems are in color and they capture more vivid details of all activity taking place.”

The Whitley County School District, established in 1818, includes one primary, one intermediate, five elementary, one middle, one high and one alternative school, serving pre-school through 12th grade. That is a lot of students to consider.

“The safety of the students is the priority of the district”, says Fuson, which obviously led to the purchase of the equipment. “The cameras have deterred theft and property damage. Money is also saved from insurance premiums by the reduced burglaries and vandalism.”

The actual placement of the cameras requires significant attention.

“I work with what's already in place from our existing systems,” Fuson says. “I consult with the administrators at the schools to see where their high demand areas are located throughout the school and involve them on what the needs are for their individual schools.

“We will continually strive to update our existing security systems. We have gradually been installing card readers and secure entrances at each of our schools.”

"Student safety is our main priority. Security equipment allows for increased safety and security for both students and staff,” Superintendent Scott Paul said. “Our school officials may obtain information and evidence that would not be available without the additional security, it’s another set of eyes to assist in the safety of our district."

The surveillance system used for the Whitley County School District is based on a hybrid AVer PC DVR. For schools and government installs, the hybrid DVR system is the best and most cost effective transition into the IP world. For new projects without an established infrastructure, IP megapixel cameras and NVRs are preferred because of the higher resolution and functionality.

When an analog system is already in place the designer has three options to upgrade:

  • Take out the analog cameras and wiring completely.
  • Add IP encoders to all analog cameras (making them IP).
  • Use a hybrid DVR that can work with current analog cameras and have the ability to add IP cameras in the future.

The Whitley County School District chose to go with the hybrid DVR choice, so now the cameras and wiring do not have to go to waste to upgrade to a newer version of technology; the existing analog cameras can be utilized and new megapixel cameras can be added.

During this time of transition many school systems, like Whitley County, struggle with what the next phase of CCTV will be and how to implement it. Analog cameras sending video through coax cable have been the standard for generations. The resolution of the cameras has increased over the years and the recording has changed from analog video on VCR tapes to digital video stored on hard drives. Even though there have been improvements, analog technology still trails behind IP because of resolution. Standard DVRs are limited to a certain resolution because of the processing needed to convert the analog video into digital. 

With IP cameras, the video being sent from the camera is already digital, so all the NVR has to do is store it. This allows for the multiple megapixel resolutions that IP cameras have. With that higher resolution comes a bigger picture that allows for the zooming after the fact, meaning that one camera can cover a bigger area or cover the same area with much greater detail.

Clint Henderson is a security integrator with 2MCCTV. The company offering complete security solutions for school districts across the U.S., as well as for businesses of all sizes.

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