Crystal Clear Protection

IP video system protects at-risk children at New York school

THREATS to the safety to the students and staff at all schools in this country have pushed the limits of conventional video security solutions. The tragic events that unfolded at Virginia Tech in April have shown that the safety of students of all ages—from pre-school to college students—is a top priority.

The increasing need for 24/7 surveillance has put campus safety directors in the precarious position of having dozens or even hundreds of video cameras in place, but not nearly enough trained personnel to monitor them all.

But a solution from CoVi can help solve that problem. A high-definition video surveillance system speeds up the monitoring process of large amounts of video to dramatically improve the effectiveness and efficiency of video surveillance, and ultimately can increase security in a school or on a campus.

With the mission of preparing at-risk children to again live safely within their home communities, nothing is more important to The Berkshire Farm Center in Canaan, N.Y., than the round-the-clock security of its residential students. So when it came time to upgrade its aging CCTV video surveillance system, the decision to move to a network-based, high-definition solution was an easy decision for school administrators.

Berkshire Farm has completed the installation of a high-definition digital video surveillance system. The CoVi Crystal HD™ system is the first phase of a large deployment of cameras installed throughout the campus that capture and record video in high-definition, which provides up to 12 times greater resolution quality than traditional analog video. While video surveillance systems are common at residential facilities for at-risk youth, the solution first HD system ever deployed in this type of facility. It allows school administrators to easily retrieve and review surveillance video without requiring additional network bandwidth capabilities.

And Berkshire Farm has been pleased with the new technology to protect students and faculty.

“Working with more than 200 at-risk kids and their families annually, at the residential treatment center, creates a security issue that is fundamental to the success of our programs,” said Harith Flagg, Berkshire Farm CEO. “The CoVi HD system provides a level of video quality that fundamentally changes the nature of video surveillance, allowing us to dramatically increase the level of detail when viewing student and faculty incidents, improve our response time, and allowing us to reduce investigation time. This enables us to continue to devote resources to our core function of helping children in need. In addition, the high-quality of recorded video makes this a valuable training tool for our staff. Real video examples of past incidents can be used to help train staff how to handle future situations.”

In September 2006, Berkshire deployed a complete Crystal HD system including HD cameras, each with a distributed media manager to record and store video at the edge of the school’s existing IP network. In all, the solution monitors 17 buildings across the campus and is fail-safe—should the school’s network go down, the system will continue to operate normally.

Berkshire’s installation of the system underscores the benefits of integrating traditional video surveillance with IP networks. Because of the system’s distributed architecture and intelligent management software, Crystal HD provides strong video quality and reliability, giving Berkshire’s security staff the highest degree of confidence the students and campus are secure.

The system to was designed to address the exponential growth of IP-based networked video surveillance traffic, and the goal of the system is to provide high-quality management, storage and delivery of high-quality video surveillance over IP networks.

CoVi is unique in its ability to deliver recorded video as good as live, whereas other solutions downgrade the quality of video to enable transport and storage. This is of particular importance at Berkshire, which doesn’t have the staff to monitor all video feeds from multiple cameras in real-time. However, when an incident occurs, staff can simply recall recorded video that is stored (without causing network bottlenecks) and view the situation in outstanding video quality.

Crystal HD’s unique distributed architecture is a dramatic departure from the legacy centralized CCTV topology, and maximizes quality and functionality while minimizing network usage. Unlike standalone camera and DVR/NVR products, Crystal HD was designed from the ground-up as a complete system. The system integrates cameras, digital media managers, and monitoring and management software to provide unparalleled performance and reliability, all of which helped make the system a strong fit for Berkshire Farm.

The tragedy at Virginia Tech has made every campus in the country evaluate its security solutions. Decisionmakers at each school to make sure they understand the benefits of technologically advanced system before making buying decisions.

The good news is that advancements in video technology including high-definition cameras, Internet-based networks that allow monitoring from handheld devices—notebooks, cell phones and PDAs—and new video analytical software can automatically alert security professionals to changes in an environment and have the potential to dramatically improve police responsiveness to an unfolding violent situation.

More so today than ever, for Berkshire and campuses nationwide, the security of students and staff, as well as a reputation for providing a safe environment, is a primary concern. Berkshire Farm School is one institution that is taking advantage of this latest surveillance technology to ensure the safety of the campus. Instead of providing video surveillance that looks like grainy security video everyone is used to seeing on the evening news, systems like the Crystal HD system is providing technologically advanced, reliable performance.

This article originally appeared in the September 2007 issue of Security Today.

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