College Prep School Demands High Level Of Safety
More than 200 cameras cover two campus locations to streamline investigations and enhance security
- By Lee Caswell
- Jul 01, 2012
Pine Crest School is a college preparatory
school that operates two campuses in south
Florida—one in Fort Lauderdale, the other in
Boca Raton. Established in 1934, Pine Crest is
one of the largest private schools in the
nation and is the educational home to more
than 2,500 students from Pre-K through 12th
grade, with 1,680 students at the Fort Lauderdale
campus and 875 in Boca Raton. The school
system challenges its students to develop
independence through academics, the arts and
athletics, and it takes pride in providing a nurturing
learning environment that prepares
students for future challenges.
Pine Crest serves a network of families that has high expectations
for the quality of education and the safety of its children. To meet the
needs of students and parents, the school required a security system
that would allow it to identify visitors before they enter any buildings.
“Our clientele often live in gated communities and demand that
everything at Pine Crest be secured to the highest level,” said Ryan
Gallagher, the director of facilities at Pine Crest. “They want the same
level of security they have in their homes and businesses extended to
their children’s lives at school.
“For some time, the school had relied on traditional technologies to
enhance security, and it wanted the capability to unify systems on both
campuses, which are about 14 miles apart. It also needed the capacity
to store several days of data from hundreds of cameras to enable the
staff to solve investigations that weren’t reported immediately. Students
never seem to report anything until several days after something actually
happened,” Gallagher said.
Pine Crest needed a cost-efficient system because it relies heavily on
donations, which often come sporadically. It also wanted a solution
that could be easily expanded upon as needed as the school system and its student base grows.
"We couldn’t just jump in because we can’t anticipate the level of
donations we receive,” said Dan Donato, a facility systems specialist
at Pine Crest. “We knew we needed to start smaller and let the
system evolve when the financial opportunities sprang up, so a
system that could easily be expanded was greatly desired.”
Pine Crest’s network of cameras, which includes IQinVision
megapixel devices, is still growing and today exceeds 200. Milestone
Systems’ easy-to-use VMS, which is based on open architecture,
manages the school’s video feeds and enables greater efficiency
and improved functionality while maintaining cost effectiveness.
The school chose Pivot3 as the platform to host both the video
management software and manage video storage. The security system
began with just one Pivot3 appliance and has been expanded
to now include eight more across the two campuses.
The massive amount of data generated by surveillance systems
makes storage a major budget item for end users of Pine Crest’s
size. In addition, the critical data derived from a surveillance system
is highly valuable and must be protected to meet regulatory,
business and security requirements. The scale-out nature of the
Pivot3 platform allows Pine Crest to start small and grow, ensuring
the performance and capacity of the system can handle the
demands of incoming video streams and adding investment protection
over time. In addition, Pivot3 appliances reduce costs by
consolidating server and shared-storage functionality in a common
appliance. Hosting servers in an iSCSI SAN eliminates the
need for stand-alone physical servers, providing immediate and
long-term reductions in power, cooling and rack space.
“The Pivot3 solution was much more cost-efficient when compared
to some of our other options,” Gallagher said. “Like most
organizations, we have a CFO and cost is always a big factor.”
Pivot3 appliances also allow for increased uptime and provide
failover protection for both virtual server and storage resources in
case of an appliance failure.
“The server is so efficient that there’s rarely any downtime,”
Donato said. “If any other manufacturer’s appliance failed, we
would have to wait for repair, but the Pivot3 system automatically
heals. Plus, it’s incredibly easy to add more storage and doesn’t take
long to configure.”
The Pivot3 storage solutions allow Pine Crest to store several
days of video, even with its colossal number of cameras. The school
system can easily access the depths of its surveillance data and
enable authorities to quickly conduct investigations.
“A lot of students will leave iPads, laptops or even cellos behind
in the hallways that we have to track down,” Gallagher said. “Of
course, they never report the items missing until several days later.
Still, we can pretty easily consult the footage to find whatever was
lost. And from a liability standpoint, we can go back and investigate
rather than rely on witnesses.”
Pine Crest plans to add an additional 150 cameras and will
expand its Pivot3 storage accordingly.
“We’ve never had any issues with our Pivot3 products. They’ve
all worked great from the first day,” Donato said. “That’s a rarity in
technology. We rely on Pivot3 to help us protect our schools, and
the technology hasn’t let us down.”
The Pine Crest surveillance system has gone beyond expectations
and has even helped streamline investigations unrelated to
the school. The cameras have, on occasion, picked up traffic accidents
on nearby streets. The school’s robust Pivot3 storage system
allows it to easily access that video and hand it over to police for
This article originally appeared in the Security Products Magazine - July 2012 issue of Security Today.