Clearing the Halls
School district gets a clearer view with multi-megapixel cameras
- By Wendi Burke
- Nov 01, 2011
The Edwardsville Community Unit School District, which encompasses 185 square miles of
the suburban St. Louis town of Edwardsville,
Ill., is one of the oldest school districts in the
state. It serves 7,500 K-12 students at 14 schools.
Typically, the district has been relatively advanced in applying
security technology. Starting in 2000, it installed analog cameras and
VCRs for a video surveillance program. That technology soon proved
insufficient for its needs, though, and in 2003 the district switched
out the VCRs for DVRs and upgraded the analog camera technology,
using encoders to connect existing analog cameras to the district’s
expanding IP network.
“As new buildings came online we wanted to take advantage of and
utilize the new technology that was available," said Director of Technology
Bill Miener. By 2007, Edwardsville was ready to switch out its
analog cameras and encoders and move to a completely IP-based
video surveillance system. The district’s technology wish list included
increased resolution, clarity and PoE capabilities available only from
top-of-the-line megapixel IP cameras.
So Miener and his team started test-driving cameras from several
different manufacturers, temporarily installing the hardware at several
different campuses and evaluating the performance on their laptops.
“After testing over several weeks, we concluded that we liked what
the IQeye cameras offered, and they were affordable for the budget we
had available at that time,” Meiner said.
Protection Inside and Out
The district started with 48 IQeye cameras. Now it has 471, two-thirds of
which are indoor cameras. IQeye Sentinels are installed in the outdoor
locations, and Alliance domes are installed indoors; resolutions for all
the cameras range from 3 MP to 5 MP. Milestone open-platform software
for IP network-based video surveillance manages the camera data.
Miener said the district’s old PTZ cameras started wearing out
right about when the warranties expired. Rather than replace them
with new PTZs, Edwardsville schools now install IQeye Sentinels in
a special housing, each covering a 60-degree field of view. “The Sentinels—
we love them,” Miener said. The district has also installed 24
Sentinels in its large sports complex in addition to the units in its
During the school day, a security officer in each school monitors only
local cameras, focusing on entrances/exits and doing a video “tour”
throughout the building. Video is stored for seven to 10 days so security
staff can review any incidents that may have transpired. In addition to
monitoring at each school, at least three Edwardsville senior staff members
can access all camera views whenever they need them.
The cameras act as a deterrent, as well, because the clear view means
staff members can identify perpetrators and hold them accountable.
“We don’t have a lot of problems anymore because the troublemakers
know about the cameras; it’s a very effective deterrent,” Miener said.
On top of all that, the switch to IP saved the school district money.
It no longer has to pay for the maintenance on broken PTZs, and the
smaller number of cameras translated into budget savings.
“In the past with our analog cameras, if we were more than 15 to 20
feet from the camera, identifying someone was hard,” Miener said.
“Once we went with multi-megapixel technology, it’s been a leap in
capability. At 60 feet, we see exactly what happened. These cameras are
three, four times more effective. That was amazing for us, and costeffective.”
This article originally appeared in the November 2011 issue of Security Today.