Upgrades to new versions of open-platform software help keep the safest campus in England on track
- By Courtney Dillon Pedersen
- Apr 01, 2013
The University of East Anglia (UEA) was an early adopter of IP video surveillance in 2005. Milestone partner, Check Your Security (CYS), brought together a number of standalone CCTV systems into one IP-based monitoring system that is proving it can grow with the university.
The university’s security system was centralized by using Milestone XProtect Enterprise as the video management platform. Ninety existing analog cameras were brought into the Milestone XProtect solution, with 30 new IP cameras installed campus-wide. UEA’s IT department took over management of three dedicated video servers and the system was moved onto the campus’ fiber backbone.
However, the number of cameras being installed around the 450-acre campus grew by up to 20 per year as more buildings were constructed. By 2011, it became clear that the system performance should be upgraded. Simultaneously, UEA began to look seriously at integrating its campus-wide Cardax access control system with the XProtect video management system to find additional security management efficiencies.
Open Platform IP Video Solution Expandable
With the guidance of CYS, the university decided to upgrade from XProtect Enterprise to XProtect Corporate. UEA also upgraded to XProtect Smart Client 7 to bring the system’s front-end user interface up to date. Additional storage servers from HP were added to handle growing data archiving capacity.
The benefits of the upgrades were numerous. The number of cameras per server can continue to expand with the use of minimal IT resources, even if the camera count continues to rise at the current rate.
UEA is planning to extend its IT services support to a neighboring school site, which is being renovated and expanded. Milestone Federated Architecture within XProtect Corporate allows UEA to easily interconnect and manage new security systems and bring them onto the centralized network.
Many additional benefits have flowed from the upgrade:
- IT systems administration resources have also been reduced. XProtect Corporate’s use of Microsoft Active Directory makes access to the surveillance from the network easier and more secure, as both firewall administration and system access authentication can be streamlined. Failover support guarantees against UEA’s surveillance system going offline in rare cases of server hardware failure.
- For UEA’s security officers, the benefits of the XProtect Corporate and XProtect Smart Client upgrades were immediately visible on their control room screens. XProtect Corporate provides interactive maps that give operators a graphical overhead view of the campus from which they can drill down into specific buildings and views, clicking on specific cameras to reveal live video images.
- XProtect Corporate’s multi-screen live viewing, combined with XProtect Smart Client’s Camera Navigator capabilities, enables operators to track suspects from camera to camera through a building and across the campus. This makes it easier to identify and apprehend suspects before they leave the site.
- Edge storage and mobile client access support a planned move to connect the cameras worn by patrolling officers and smartphones to the XProtect video management system.
- The software also offers improved features, such as on-screen, joystick PTZ control, digitally-signed video evidence export, more sophisticated alarm management and improved design for easier navigation.
The software system gives UEA’s team of 28 security officers the confidence that they can retrieve the details of incidents quickly and use this intelligence to make well-informed decisions to keep the campus’ staff, students and visitors safe.
The upgrade leverages the IP video choice for additional expansions. The integration platform also enables the university to explore further efficiencies across the security estate through closer integration with third-party systems.
“We have two main security systems at UEA,” said Trevor Smith, the university’s campus services manager. “One is Cardax access control and the other is the Milestone-based IP video system. The idea of integrating the two is exciting.
“You only have to look at security scenarios to realize the potential. For example, in case of fire at night, it would be possible to determine which students have left a residence hall following an alarm being raised, comparing the numbers and identities of those detected by the access control with surveillance image views at the designated muster points.”
Smooth integration between the Cardax and Milestone systems will mean that all access control alarm events—forced door entries, swiping of a deactivated card—will be linked with the Milestone video database. Access control alerts will be displayed in the XProtect Smart Client on the control-room screens.
The nearest camera to a door entry could be selected and moved via XProtect to view the person trying to force a door. Patrolling security officers can be dispatched to challenge any unauthorized entrants to a building. The Milestone system also can integrate with video content analytics to “face match” the photo in the Cardax system with the live, XProtect video image of the card user swiping the card. Theft or misuse of swipe cards to enter university buildings could be easily detected. The Cardax-Milestone integration project will be completed in 2013.
“This software enables us to manage the rapid expansion which is constant at the UEA,” Smith said. “Furthermore, Milestone’s open platform allows us to tap into the latest best-of-breed IP-based technologies and bring disparate systems together to generate further efficiencies.”
UEA’s Security Credentials
UEA was voted third for “Good Security” out of 113 universities in the Times Higher Education Supplement’s ‘Student Experience Survey 2011.’ It has been voted the safest university campus in England three years in a row. UEA’s security team provides 24-hour security campus-wide. These officers are based in a fully-manned security lodge every day of the year. They run four-shift teams of seven people each, and one officer of the on-duty team stays in the lodge to man the phones and alarms and complete incident reports.
Every two hours, officers rotate between tasks during 12-hour shifts in which they perform a range of activities, including mobile patrol in vehicles and on foot, manning the central control room and the security lodge, and tending to locking and unlocking duties.
Squeezing More from Budgets
Once the access-control CCTV system integration is complete at UEA this will establish a blueprint for further projects. CYS is already scoping the benefits of integrating the XProtect platform with UEA’s intruder alarms and fire-detection systems to build business cases for those investments if budgets become available.
or three new buildings are going up each year and student numbers are rising,” Smith said. “More effective use of the VMS and alarm platform provides the key to squeezing better and more services out of static budgets.”
This article originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of Security Today.