A Redesign in Surveillance

A Redesign in Surveillance

Illinois elementary district upgrades to IP system

The Ottawa Elementary School District is in Ottawa, Illinois, a river town 80 miles southwest of Chicago. The district consists of five schools, the campuses of which include Jefferson Elementary School, Lincoln Elementary School, McKinley Elementary School, Shepherd Middle Schools and the Jefferson Elementary “Art House” building. In the spring of 2015, a variety of issues caused the schools’ administration to determine that they needed a surveillance system upgrade.

The district’s IT director, Kyle Olesen, met with Nick Melnyk, a systems integrator for Ficek Electric & Communication Systems, and the Arecont Vision regional sales team, ultimately sparking a major collaboration to redesign the surveillance systems used by all their schools.

Out with Analog

The district had been using mostly analog cameras for its school surveillance. The original cameras had been placed throughout the five campuses without a formal coverage strategy, hindering the usefulness of the surveillance system. This prevented key areas from being effectively monitored and the images that were provided by the analog cameras were of low quality.

New challenges presented themselves as the project continued. With five completely different locations to work with, it was clear that the project would be a long-term one. It was imperative that the installation efforts be planned accordingly. Part of planning was to treat each school as a separate project with its own surveillance coverage layout and system requirements.

Such a long undertaking meant staffing challenges. The project manager changed five months into the project, resulting in the bidding process to be undertaken a second time. A Chicago-based architecture and engineer firm was then hired by the school to help facilitate the project. Educational sessions were offered by Arecont Vision to bring the new firm up to date on IP megapixel camera technology. The end user, systems integrator and all other stakeholders were brought up to speed quickly and efficiently.

Introducing the Technology

During the first meeting with the district in 2015, the IT director was introduced to megapixel single- and multi-sensor cameras. The end user was impressed, and a more in-depth meeting was scheduled.

This led to walkthroughs at each of the five campuses to outline recommendations for camera locations and models. The individual schools were pleased with the camera performance during this series of events, and the project continued into the design phase. During this period, the district received a detailed layout for each school. The layouts outlined the coverage area that each camera would provide.

After completing the design phase, the systems integrator and the school district participated in the Arecont Vision Try-and-Buy Program. This program provided the end user community with the opportunity to experience Arecont Vision megapixel cameras before committing to a full installation. The Ottawa School District approved the installation of networked cameras in all five locations in July 2016.

Exacq Technologies, part of the Security Products business unit of Tyco, was selected as the VMS provider. Exacq and Arecont Vision have thousands of joint installations for schools and other surveillance projects around the world, and they are a member of the Arecont Vision Technology Partner Program. Their VMS has been tested in the Arecont Vision MegaLab, and has been certified for continued integration.

The five schools use an array of cameras throughout the district. The multi-sensor, panoramic 180-degree SurroundVideo and adjustable-view SurroundVideo Omni series provide coverage of large areas such as cafeterias, gyms and parking lots.

Arecont Vision MicroDome G2 series cameras were used for interior areas such as for coverage of hallways and doorways. MegaView 2 series cameras equipped with STELLAR (Spatio Temporal Low Light Architecture) technology were implemented for day and night outdoor coverage.

Made in the U.S.A.

Arecont Vision cameras used by the project are hardened against potential cybersecurity attacks, and cannot be repurposed for malicious purposes, giving the schools an added level of security protection.

The cameras are monitored locally and remotely by the schools, using the Exacq software. Each school’s administration has access to the cameras monitoring their individual campus, allowing for real-time monitoring throughout the day. Video can be accessed remotely, with playback from any camera using district laptops and tablets.

“Our company is satisfied and the customer is pleased with the images obtained by this camera system,” Melnyk said. “Everything fits; the accessories and mounts. That all comes into play because a lot of times you can be sent equipment with wrong accessories and other things that don’t fit, extending the installation process longer than it needs to be. This project and installation went very smoothly.”

This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Security Today.

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