Deterring Crime on Campus
The power of IP cameras
- By Vance Kozik
- Jan 01, 2013
Over the past two decades,
increasing crime and violence
in American schools have highlighted
the critical need for
safer, more secure campuses.
From K-12 schools to higher
education campuses, school
environments that are safe for
students, staff and property
are vital for learning. Yet for
schools that have a large area
with multiple buildings, ensuring
safety and security aroundthe-
clock in all corners of the
campus can be a challenge.
Fortunately, a growing number of school
districts and university campuses are turning
to the latest security technology as a crucial
tool in their arsenal against crime and violence.
Many also are taking advantage of
existing data networks to build state-of-theart
IP surveillance networks that give security
professionals and administrators eyes and
ears on multiple areas of campus—from the
crowded hallways and the cafeteria to remote
areas of the parking lot.
These camera networks provide instant
access to video of normal daily operations
and incidents unfolding for prompt response.
Thanks to video recording, schools also can
speed the investigation and adjudication of
specific incident—such as a fight in the parking
lot, theft of an iPad from a locker or an
argument between student and staff member.
Even schools that haven’t suffered serious
security breaches in the past are proactively
adopting state-of-the-art IP video surveillance
solutions to ensure their peace of mind continues.
One such campus is Blanco Independent
School District (BISD) in Blanco, Texas.
One School’s Story
Although incidents of serious crime on campus
have been rare in the past, Blanco ISD
sought to lock-in tight security going forward
and use modern technology to stay ahead of
the curve. This meant installing a system that would monitor all its public facilities, including a high school, a middle
school, an elementary school and shared administrative buildings
spread across its 378-mile campus. When it received funding for a
much-needed renovation, the campus decided that the time was right
to beef up security.
Previously, Blanco’s campus had virtually no formal security
beyond locked doors and yet, its campus renovations included a mission-
style building that was originally built in 1874, now considered a
historic site. The school district was also creating 16 new classrooms,
a library, a technology lab and a science lab. Protecting all these assets
was a priority.
At the end of 2011, Blanco ISD began shopping for a technology
partner to help turn its IP surveillance vision into reality. Local technology
reseller M&A Technology invited Tom Cozzi, BISD technology
director, to attend a Lunch-n-Learn event hosted by D-Link, to learn
more about the full scope of IP surveillance solutions. It was there that
Cozzi met the local field support team and discovered the true value of
next-generation network switches and IP cameras.
“My role is to give customers a wide variety of technology options
and to determine the best fit for their specific application,” said Marc
Steuwe, senior account manager at M&A Technology. “Part of the
solutions recommendation was knowing about local support.”
After a competitive bid and careful evaluation of a few other solutions,
the school district had full confidence in their purchase decision.
“Ironically, D-Link was not the most inexpensive bid,” Cozzi said.
“Plus, I was impressed with the level of support I was already receiving
from the local D-Link team.”
Optimizing Existing Data Networks
One benefit of IP surveillance is that it can cost-effectively merge with
an existing data network. For example, managed switches from D-Link
are embedded with Auto Surveillance VLAN technology, which
enables users to easily add a reliable, separate IP surveillance network
to an existing data network. The resulting hybrid network handles both
data and surveillance traffic, saving the cost of deploying and maintaining
a separate network for surveillance traffic only.
Such was the case at BISD, which already had a data network in
place and simply needed to upgrade to managed switches in order to
accommodate its new IP surveillance network traffic.
During installation, the school district replaced many of its former
10/100 MBps switches with new gigabit switches, providing extra
value. Not only did it get new surveillance cameras, the district also
upgraded the capacity and performance of its entire network and
avoided the need to create a separate network just for camera footage.
Advantages of PoE
For BISD, one of the benefits of selecting this particular solution was
the PoE cameras, enabling visual surveillance in areas where there is
no power. This allows administrators to see even the most remote corners
of their campuses.
Another key aspect of Blanco’s solution was managed gigabit PoE
switches, which consolidate both camera power and video data into
one network cable. This saves on installation materials and labor, and
capitalizes on PoE’s low-voltage power. The switches also follow the
802.3af and 802.3at standards. D-Link’s DGS-3120 series managed
switches were an attractive choice to BISD because they include a lifetime
Choosing PoE switches was a key factor in optimizing the district’s
$100,000 project budget. Here’s why: PoE cable is a single, Cat-5 network
cable that’s half the cost of combo power/coax cable used in traditional
analog CCTV applications. Plus, the single, low-cost cable also
offers the benefits of transmitting motion detection, video analytics,
audio, alarm triggers and PTZ commands, all of which require separate
additional cables in analog installations.
Furthermore, when PoE switches are configured for remote access,
an administrator can log into the switch and turn off the power to one
camera port from any remote location, including mobile devices without
having to be on property or at the camera’s exact physical location.
Another Crucial Component:
Video Management Software
Once an IP surveillance network is installed, managing all the video
traffic efficiently from one central location becomes paramount, and
finding the right capabilities is often unique to every user. Although
there are a wide variety of VMS solutions on the market—each with
different strengths—Blanco ISD chose SiteWatch (from San Antoniobased
E-Watch) for three important benefits.
Bandwidth. SiteWatch software minimizes the bandwidth for the
video signal through the network.
Virtualization. This solution allows users to link multiple servers at
different locations together to create a single virtual string of servers.
Ease of use. SiteWatch provides an easy-to-use, intuitive user interface
that allows administrators to clearly see surveillance footage
from anywhere on campus.
More Eyes on Campus, More Security
Soon after BISD’s May 2012 installation, the school district was already
capturing important surveillance footage. After a bathroom was vandalized,
administrators were able to track time stamps from the nearby
hallway, which led to the questioning of one student based on the
amount of time he had spent in the bathroom. After knowing that he
had been caught on camera, the student confessed to the crime.
Aside from vandalism, IP surveillance helped the school district
provide visual evidence about disruptive student behavior and even
local traffic accidents.
Today, Blanco’s high school secretary has a constant view of the
front of the building and the main hallway. The middle school secretary,
who could never see the front door before, now has a complete
view of that area and can always see who is entering and exiting.
Remote Access Increases Ease of Use
“Not only does every workstation in the district have access to surveillance
footage, I can also view footage remotely from home after hours,
so if there’s anything going on campus at night, I can assess the situation,”
Cozzi said. “If there’s criminal behavior involved, we can revert
back to the archived video to assist with the investigation. There’s no
doubt that having cameras in obvious locations has been a big deterrent.
“It’s comforting to know that we can see what’s going on now, and
if people ask about our district’s security, we can say we have a top-ofthe-
line surveillance system. We’ve now got full assurance that everything
on campus is okay.”
This article originally appeared in the January 2013 issue of Security Today.