Tightening Campus Security
Connetquot Central School District integrates district-wide, live network surveillance
- By Fredrik Nilsson
- Apr 01, 2010
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."