On Cloud 9
Campuses need effective security equipment
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Apr 01, 2015
Perhaps more than any other time in history,
school campuses need effective security equipment
and tools not only to ensure the physical
safety of students, teachers, staff and administration
but also to create a safe environment
where effective learning takes place as well
as manage expensive assets, such as computer
equipment, from theft or damage.
After all, students deserve a safe place to learn and thrive as they
grow, and teachers deserve a safe place to teach. To achieve this type of
security within the budgetary constraints most campuses are plagued
with, the majority of school districts seek cost-effective security equipment
with the hope that it will also be effective. With cloud video
surveillance, schools can achieve both.
School districts’ budgets for security varies by city, town or province
as well as by state; therefore, some campuses have been able to embrace
using advanced IP video cameras in conjunction with the cloud for
video surveillance while others are sustaining the best they can with
analog. One drawback to analog is that some of the DVRs paired with
these cameras can only be viewed using a dedicated computer with
Windows XP already installed, yet this operating system is no longer
supported by Microsoft. In this case, videos can only be viewed on the
Windows XP-specific computer that is logged into the network.
This is exactly what happened to a Tennessee school district on their
middle school and high school campuses.
“We had an analog system where the DVR could only be viewed
using a dedicated computer with Windows XP,” said Dianne Anderson,
Ph.D., technology coordinator, McKenzie Special School District. “I
wanted to switch to a different system that would work online as well.”
Cloud video surveillance offers campuses a cost-effective option
compared to the typical on-site video surveillance system. With the
ability to add unlimited users at no additional cost, a campuses level of
security is immediately multiplied, enabling authorized users to access
a browser-based cloud system’s cameras on a laptop, tablet or smartphone
no matter where the user is located. This enables multiple sets
of “virtual eyes” to monitor the campus 24/7. Some schools are also
taking advantage of this specific feature by adding the local police
department as an authorized user in which automatically gives officers situational awareness as to what’s taking place on a campus through surveillance feeds, providing a tool for quicker response time should
an incident occur on a campus.
One of McKenzie school district’s main goals was to have a video
surveillance system in which all camera-covered areas could be viewed
and monitored online. This would enable the campuses to provide
security around the clock.
“We reviewed several cloud-based video surveillance manufacturers,
but we chose the Smartvue system because of how easy it was to get
system access from smartphones as well as computers,” Anderson said.
“We installed a 34 camera system at the high school and a 31 camera
system at the middle school, all of which are connected to the Smartvue
cloud. Now, our SRO [school resource officer] has the ability to log
into our cloud-based system and see all the cameras whenever he
needs to as well as the local police.”
Realizing that schools’ needs change over time is a huge key to cloud
video surveillance as some providers insist on charging a fee for each
additional camera licenses; but, there are other providers who understand
campus surveillance and offer the option of scalability at no
additional cost. Seek providers that don’t charge for camera licenses.
This allows schools to add or remove cameras at any time without the
extra cost of camera licenses.
“We seek partnerships with providers that help ENA service our
school districts by being scalable and simple to implement,” said Stephen
Klausner, partner program account services. “Our Cloud video
surveillance partner helps us do that.”
In addition, schools should select browser-based cloud solutions so
that no special software downloads or specially-dedicated surveillance
terminals needed, while offering an easy-to-use system that is easy to
set up. Opt for solutions that can use existing cameras or work on the
existing network. Choose plug-and-play solutions in which new cameras
are installed and found automatically, becoming operational with
just a single click of the mouse.
“We feel like our campuses, students and faculty are better protected
with the Smartvue solution,” Anderson said. “We can see the camera
view no matter where we are, and Smartvue allows us to be scalable
without paying additional camera licensing fees.”
When trying to decide if a cloud video surveillance system is right,
here are a few questions school campuses should ask themselves to find
the best product from the best provider at the most cost-efficient price:
- Is the solution browser-based?
- Is the solution easy to use?
- Is the solution easy to install?
- Does the solution offer unlimited users?
- Does the solution offer customized alerts?
- Do we need to purchase additional camera licenses when adding
- Does the solution provider offer free training or consulting for
schools in transition to cloud video surveillance?
The ultimate goal of most schools is to provide a safe and secure environment
so that students can learn, teachers can teach, and administration
and staff can support the learning process. When an incident does
occur, though, campuses need to be properly equipped with the most
effective type of video surveillance at a comfortable price point. This is
achieved by working with the right provider of
cloud video surveillance, one who clearly understands
the campus environment, the unique security
challenges such a location poses and the budgetary
This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Security Today.