Eyes Wide Open
Safeguarding schools takes smart, practical and proactive approach
- By Vance Kozik
- Jul 01, 2012
The Colorado Independent
School District (CISD) serves
nearly 1,100 students in North
Central Texas. as it is for
most school districts across
America, safety is a paramount
part of CISD’s overall miss on
of shaping college-bound, lifelong
learners—a goal made
easier and more affordable
by extending the utility of the
district’s network with IP surveillance
Securing the Now, Foreseeing the Future
From an IT perspective, CISD has made
excellent progress in its quest to promote a
21st-century education through advanced
technology. Spread over five square miles, its
campuses are tied together through a gigabit
fiber network. While many students have no
computers or Internet access at home, at
school they enjoy the benefits of rich, Webbased
scholastic content, Smart Boards for
more exciting classroom instruction and laptops
for mobile learning.
Despite its classroom successes and smalltown
status, the district has not had the luxury
of avoiding security issues. While hardly in
a high-crime area, the district has recorded
occasional break-ins and acts of vandalism. In
addition to regional and national security
concerns, there are local concerns, including
the school’s proximity to a state prison.
“In our post-9/11 world, and in keeping
with Unified School Safety Standards for Texas
Schools, we’ve strived to create a master plan
to keep our campuses and kids safe,” said Pam
Alvarez, Colorado ISD technology director.
A complete IP surveillance system became
“the eyes” of that plan, based on a comprehensive
D-Link site survey and founded on a
network of versatile D-Link network cameras
and NVRs. The advantages of an IP-based
solution over a traditional analog system were
easy to envision:
- automation of security routines and alerts
- higher-resolution images for accurate identification
- easy-to-search storage functions
- less resource-intensive.
Building a Blueprint for Better Security
In establishing its security network, CISD leveraged
its relationship with D-Link VAR and
Abacus Computers Inc. in Midland, Texas.
With the help of a specialized education sales
consultant, the district carefully weighed
competing products based on their flexibility
of installation and a local site survey.
Abacus and its local D-Link representative
then performed a complete walk-through of
each one of five campuses and provided a
comprehensive network diagram and bill of
materials as a project blueprint.
For the final solution, the team installed a
series of wired and wireless D-Link IP cameras.
These were linked to an array of DNS-
726-4 SecureCenter two-bay NVRs supported
by various switches and wireless access points.
Even though there was AC power for the middle
school gym, running Ethernet cable
through it was impractical, so the team chose
a D-Link Wireless day/night network camera.
Employing DVC-20 2X four to eight mm
varifocal lenses, D-Link was able not only to
provide broad coverage of common areas,
hallways and more, but tailor the focus and
field of view for each location so images were
clear, no matter where the camera was located.
Both CISD and Abacus were pleased with
the ease of installation, seamless integration
into the existing network and the resulting
image quality, which was far beyond anyone’s
expectations. Initial reservations from
teachers about surveillance were soon
allayed after they saw a significant calming
in the hallways.
Caught on Camera: Safer Schools and Students
With the IP surveillance network in place,
CISD’s security outlook has been enhanced
considerably, putting the district’s master plan
in close alignment with Unified School Safety
Standards for Texas Schools.
The cameras capture images 24/7. Four
logically pooled NVRs hold up to two weeks
of video for as many as 16 cameras supported
with PoE. The units also support SmartSearch
for easy retrieval of video streams based on a
range of criteria. By way of a Web browser,
principals are able to view footage of past
security incidents, and the district superintendent
can scan images from all schools.
The high resolution of the installed cameras
has proven extremely effective—particularly
because CISD was able to review footage
of recent suspected acts of vandalism and
theft in the district’s gymnasium.
Based on that success, CISD principals
have already discussed expanding coverage
with more cameras. Versatile, cost-effective
and simple to integrate, IP solutions will
clearly make it easy for them to “put eyes on”
an even safer learning environment.
This article originally appeared in the Security Products Magazine - July 2012 issue of Security Today.