Texas School District Upgrades Security With IP-Based Solution

Using funding from public bond initiatives, a handful of schools in the Plano Independent School District  in Collin County, Texas, are renovated every few years.

For the most recent round of renovations, which began in Summer 2009, the district upgraded its analog CCTV systems with JVC VR-N1600U 16-channel network video recorders and a variety of JVC V.Networks IP-based cameras.

The Plano ISD serves residents in the northern portions of Dallas and Richardson, as well as the city of Plano and parts of two other cities in southwest Collin County. It includes 70 schools, from preschools to senior high schools as well as two special program centers, with more than 55,000 students and 6,800 employees.

Kris Gentz, systems manager, Plano ISD Security Police Services, said 13 campuses have already upgraded to JVC NVRs and six sites have been completely renovated with JVC cameras and NVRs. In addition, McMillen High School, a new facility located in Murphy, will feature JVC security systems when it opens for the 2011-12 school year.

Each school is equipped with 100-150 cameras monitoring interior and exterior common areas of campus, according to Gentz. The majority of new JVC cameras are the VN-V25U, a box-style IP network camera that features a 1/4-inch progressive scan CCD, day/night surveillance, and built-in motion detection. However, the district has also installed some high-resolution JVC cameras, which include a 1.3 megapixel progressive scan CCD, to keep watch over parking lots.

“After researching many security camera brands, we chose JVC,” Gentz said. “They seemed to be reliable and are easy to install. The feedback from the campuses has been favorable.”

Specifically, Gentz said the JVC cameras provide better images in low light than other cameras he tested. Plus, the picture quality of the recorded video has improved -- unlike analog cameras, which require encoding and decoding of the video signal through a digital network, the signal from JVC V.Networks IP-based cameras stays digital throughout the process.

Each school has its own CCTV network based around the VR-N1600U, which features a VCR-like front panel control panel for easy operation. Some sites have as many as nine VR-N1600Us networked together to accommodate the numerous CCTV cameras. Gentz said the NVR’s remote access is an important time-saving feature, because it allows him and other authorized personnel to remotely monitor footage and control cameras from all sites without driving to each campus in the district.

The VR-N1600U’s all-in-one design provides viewing, recording, and playback, with high reliability and easy maintenance. XProtect Enterprise IP camera management software from Milestone Systems is embedded within the NVR, which allows Plano ISD to manage the view and access rights to all the cameras from one central server.

Plano ISD also favored the idea of using local NVRs for each campus. The use of local NVRs was a big benefit for the district’s network, as it requires far less bandwidth to monitor specific footage from one location than it does to transmit all the footage from hundreds of cameras and dozens of locations to be recorded.

Schools remain one of the largest markets for JVC security equipment. With no ongoing license fee for each camera, districts like Plano ISD save thousands of dollars annually. Plus, network installation is simplified with built-in drivers for a number of cameras from JVC and other manufacturers. The VR-N1600U’s remote access is another important selling point for many school districts.

Several distributors and integrators have been part of Plano’s recent CCTV upgrades, with Anixter serving as the main distributor for the project. The Ascend Group, which is based in Addison, Texas, is JVC’s manufacturer representative firm for the state.

Craig Yates at the Ascend Group said Plano chose the JVC VR-N1600U because “they wanted an appliance-based system that was similar in architecture to their existing analog system. The IT department liked the fact that they did not have to build servers, because it was an out-of-the-box, enterprise-class machine with everything embedded.”

Gentz noted the move to a digital CCTV workflow does have a learning curve, and he has appreciated the support from JVC during the installation process. “It’s not like the analog camera systems,” he explained. “You need to be somewhat network savvy – and your technology department has to be on board. Our Technology Department has been super.”

 

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