Campus Security

Tightening Campus Security

Connetquot Central School District integrates district-wide, live network surveillance

Having narrowly averted a high-alert situation, officials at Connetquot Central School District in Islip, N.Y., decided that a more proactive, district-wide surveillance strategy was needed to help the community quickly neutralize any threats to students and staff. As long-time users of analog cameras operating independently at each school, administrators realized their legacy equipment wasn't adequate for mounting a coordinated surveillance and emergency response between all 11 schools in the school district.

Taking advantage of the district's existing high-speed backbone, A+ Technology Solutions of Bay Shore, N.Y., designed an enterprise-class security solution that enabled the district to unify its legacy equipment, a new array of high-resolution network cameras and network-based access control systems for each building under a single, centralized network-based video management system. The integrator also designed custom incident awareness software to allow mobile guard patrols and local law enforcement to view cameras as needed.

Enhancing Surveillance Resources

Located in the heart of Long Island, about 50 miles east of New York City, Connetquot Central School District stretches 15 miles across the hamlets of Ronkonkoma, Bohemia and Oakdale. There are 11 schools in the district: seven elementary schools, one alternative preschool, two middle schools and one high school. Despite the economic downturn forcing the district to reduce expenditures, Superintendent Alan Groveman and the board of education believed that controlling access to their campuses was of paramount importance to ensure the safety of students and property.

"We were looking for a way to augment our foot patrols and secure our school perimeters," said Don Flynn, security consultant for the Connetquot Central School District. "Nowadays especially, it's critical that we know who's on campus during school hours and who's on our grounds at night."

To help them achieve that goal while protecting the district's existing investment in analog cameras, A+ Technology Solutions implemented a phased-in approach to achieve an integrated, district-wide network surveillance solution. It began with a server infrastructure linking a DynaView enterprise network recorder from IPVideo Corp. to several Axis Communications network cameras. The integrator then networked the 64 existing analog cameras at each campus by attaching them to AXIS 241Q video encoders, which digitize and send the video streams over a secure virtual private network to the security command center located in the high school.

Professional security staff uses IPVideo's intuitive DynaView video management system for 24-hour live monitoring, recording and storage of the video feeds. School principals have access to the cameras in their own buildings while the superintendent and assistant superintendent can remotely monitor any district camera from consoles in their respective offices.

Controlling Entry Points

Because the district has instituted a closed-campus policy, A+ Technology Solutions incorporated the ISONAS IPat- the-Door Access Control System for all 54 doors leading into the 11 schools, allowing security to screen staff and visitors as they enter the building. The devices, which operate in concert with the video cameras through the Dyna-View system, keep the entrances securely locked against unauthorized intruders.

The integrator also installed PTZ network cameras using a wireless mesh network. The wireless bridge gives Connetquot clear coverage of the sports fields as well as perimeter gates. Powerful optical and digital zoom and intelligent auto-tracking allow security staff to closely observe crowd activity.

By leveraging H.264 video compression and PoE switches to connect the technology to the district's existing backbone, the integrator has helped the school system minimize bandwidth usage and reduce energy consumption while enhancing its emergency readiness. The enhanced compression protocol also has reduced storage requirements, making it affordable for the district to extend its archiving policy from 10 days to a full month.

As the older analog cameras wear out, the district plans to gradually replace them with newer, high-resolution network cameras. The goal is to eventually eliminate the need for video encoders by migrating technology to a full camera-based network surveillance.

Notifying Law Enforcement

Custom incident awareness software allows the Suffolk County Police Department access to any of the schools' cameras in an emergency. Activation is triggered by a 911 call that authorizes law enforcement to log onto a standard Web browser and securely view the camera feeds from a PC at police headquarters or on a mobile device.

The program also enables the school district's own mobile security teams to view events in progress from handheld devices as they patrol the district and respond to dispatches. This ensures that everyone on route to the site is fully apprised of the situation before arriving.

Staying in the Know

Live monitoring has helped the district become more proactive in detecting and responding to incidents as they unfold.

"Not only can principals and the superintendent monitor emergency situations, but if we have to evacuate a school, we can view the cameras inside and outside a building from our mobile command center," Flynn said.

He reports that district security staff can dispatch mobile patrols to a campus within minutes of an event, sometimes arriving before the local police. This heightened situational awareness has enabled the district to reduce the size of its after-hours foot patrols without compromising critical coverage.

"Vandalism has dropped nearly 60 percent since we implemented the cameras," Flynn said. "We've raised the security and safety of the students and our community to a whole new level."

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