29 Campuses and Counting
Growing Texas school district adds comprehensive video surveillance system
- By Nicole Segura
- Jan 01, 2012
Pflugerville (pronounced “flew-grr-ville”) Independent
School District rests in a popular suburb
just northeast of Austin, Texas. Encompass -
ing nearly 100 square miles, PISD enrolls more
than 21,000 students on 29 campuses.
Within the next 10 years PISD expects to double its enrollment to
reach more than 40,000 students. Recognizing the need to develop a
comprehensive video surveillance system to effectively monitor and
provide safety for the thousands of students that walk the hallways and
enter and exit buildings every school day, PISD sought a district-wide
video management system to replace the DVRs and proprietary camera
software systems it was using at a few campuses.
Finding a Fix
“We had a campus-by-campus DVR-based system, and not at every
campus, just at a few,” said Jo Moss, PISD safety and emergency management
coordinator. “If a camera went down—which was often—we
went out to the BuyBoard state-approved vendor list and just bought
another one. We found what we had in place to be a temporary fix for
what was a more general issue.”
Moss said it was a system that offered little support and that seemed
to result in continued money invested in equipment, rather than a
solution. She and Todd Gratehouse, technology project manager, then
sought to further develop the existing plan and to implement a comprehensive
resolution that would provide district-wide coverage—a
solution that was in line with the district’s safety initiatives.
Supporting the Enterprise
After an exhaustive bid process, PISD selected Video Insight’s Enterprise
software to manage the district-wide camera solution. System
integrator Titus Systems, of Round Rock, Texas, provided the physical
installation of the cabling and cameras. The implementation includes
600 Axis and 300 Arecont 8 MP cameras running on 11 Dell R510 servers,
each with 22 TB of RAID5 storage hosted in the PISD datacenter.
Cameras have been placed in all major hallways, entrances and exits,
bus loops, loading docks, cafeterias and gymnasiums. The district
chose the extremely reliable Axis cameras for many of its indoor and
outdoor locations. The Arecont cameras are a mix of 180-degree and
360-degree 8 MP panoramic cameras. The Arecont cameras provide
four separate camera streams but use only one Video Insight license
(which saves the district money). Moss said the Arecont 8 MP 360s also
make the camera presence less noticeable by students.
“With the Arecont 360, I have four excellent views of the cafeteria,
for example, but as far as the students are concerned, they just see one
camera,” Moss said. “Also, our school board didn’t want to give the
impression that PISD had entered a ‘Big Brother’ phase, so the more
you can do with fewer cameras satisfies everyone.”
With PISD’s fiber infrastructure, all 2,200 cameras are streamed
from the various campuses to the datacenter where the Video Insight
Enterprise Software distributes the processing across the Dell R510s,
running more than 150 cameras per server, which makes for an efficient
use of infrastructure, Gratehouse said. In addition, a twelfth R510
is configured for automated failover in the case of a server failure.
“Our purpose in developing this plan was to provide the safest environment
for our students and employees while also maximizing our
resources, and we have achieved that,” he said.
Gratehouse added that employees have found the Video Insight software
much more “user friendly” than what they had before.
“Our campus administrators and police officers monitor the cameras,
and at times we have had to make video clips for use in investigations,”
he said. “They have had no problems in retrieving video and in
using the software. It has been so easy for them to just get into the software
and do what they need to do because the user interface is so simple
Moss said PISD is building for growth with two new elementary
schools, a middle school and a high school coming on board in the next
five years. The district plans to have cameras using Video Insight for
these campuses, as well.
The district is pleased overall with the implementation, particularly
since the comprehensive coverage Video Insight provides supports the
district-wide safety plan.
“We know that we have the doors, cafeterias, gyms and hallways of
all schools covered,” Moss aid. “That consistency is key to the implementation
of our district-wide safety program. All campuses have the
ability to monitor and provide a safe environment for our students and