All Eyes on Campus Safety
High profile tragedies spur need for IP surveillance
- By Vance Kozik
- Nov 01, 2013
The shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary
in December 2012 shattered the sleepy town of
Newtown, Conn., and once again shattered
America’s notions of what constitutes a safe
place. For many, this most recent school tragedy,
one of the deadliest shootings in U.S. history,
brought all-too-familiar memories of
previous, national school events—such as the
Columbine High School shootings in 1999 and
the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007.
In response, many schools have increased their focus on keeping
students safe by investing in technologies, crisis plans and lockdown
training programs that can help identify potential school shooters and
foil planned attacks. These efforts are driving the country’s market for
school security system integration to rise by more than 80 percent
from 2012 to 2017.
Validity of Video
According to a new report, “Vertical Insights:
Video Surveillance & Security in Education,”
from information and analytics provider
HIS, the market for security systems integration
in educational institutions is set to
expand to $4.9 billion in 2017, up from $2.7
billion in 2012.
Video surveillance and security systems
that can reduce the possibility of incidents or
that provide quicker response times to incidents
as they are occurring have an advantage
over those that cannot. Therefore, an increasing
number of U.S. institutions are wisely putting
more “eyes” on campus with state-of-theart,
IP surveillance networks that can give
administrators visual knowledge of what’s
happening on campus—from the crowded
hallways and cafeteria to remote areas of the
parking lot. And, because this video surveillance
happens around-the-clock, schools can
respond to incidents in real time.
Providing instant access to video of normal,
daily operations, as well as incidents
unfolding for prompt response, video recording
technology also provides the additional
benefits of aiding in the investigation and
adjudication of incidents—such as a fight in
the parking lot, to the theft of an iPad from a
locker, or an argument between a student and
at a Texas ISD
Even schools that haven’t suffered serious
security breaches in the past are proactively
adopting state-of-the-art, IP surveillance
solutions to ensure their peace of mind continues.
One such campus is Blanco Independent
School District (ISD) in Blanco, Texas.
Although incidents of serious crime on
campus have been rare in the past, Blanco ISD
sought to lock in tight security going forward
and to use modern technology to stay ahead
of the curve. When it received funding for a
much-needed renovation, the campus decided
that the time was right to beef up security.
That meant installing a system that would put
“eyes and ears” on all its public facilities,
including a high school, a middle school, an
elementary school and shared administrative
buildings, along with 16 newly-created classrooms,
and a newly-built library, technology
lab and science lab spread across its
378-square-mile campus. Protecting all these
assets was a priority.
Previously, Blanco’s campus had virtually
no formal security beyond locked doors;
and yet, its campus renovations included a
mission-style building that was originally
built in 1874 and sits on ground now considered
a historic site.
At the end of 2011, Blanco ISD began shopping
for a technology partner to help turn its
IP surveillance vision into a reality. Local
technology reseller M&A Technology invited
Blanco technology director Tom Cozzi to
attend a Lunch-and-Learn event hosted by
D-Link to learn more about the full scope of
IP surveillance solutions. It was there that
Cozzi met the local field support team and
discovered the true value of next-generation,
network switches and IP cameras.
“My role is to give customers a wide variety
of technology options and to determine
the best fit for their specific application,”
said Marc Steuwe, senior account manager at
M&A Technology. “In this case, D-Link’s
solutions were the best fit. Part of that recommendation
was knowing about the company’s
local support. They always have your
back during installation, and they’re right
there to help you work out any hiccups,
should they arise.”
After a competitive bid and careful evaluation
of a few other solutions, the school district
had full confidence in their purchase
Data and Surveillance Traffic
on One Network
One of the benefits of IP surveillance is that it
can cost-effectively merge with an existing
data network. For example, many of today’s
managed switches are embedded with auto
surveillance VLAN technology that enables
users to easily add a reliable and separate IP
surveillance network to an existing data network.
The resulting hybrid network handles
both data and surveillance traffic, saving the
cost of deploying and maintaining a separate
network for surveillance traffic only.
Such was the case at Blanco ISD, which
already had a data network in place and simply
needed to upgrade to managed switches in
order to accommodate its new IP surveillance
network traffic. During installation, the
school district replaced many of its former
100-Mb switches with new gigabit switches.
Not only did it get new surveillance cameras,
the district also upgraded the capacity
and performance of its entire network and
avoided the need to create a separate network
just for camera footage.
Praising Power over Ethernet
For Blanco ISD, one of the benefits of selecting
this particular solution was the PoE cameras,
which enabled the district to obtain
visual surveillance in areas where there is no
power. This allows administrators to see even
the remotest corners of their campuses.
Managed, gigabit PoE switches consolidate
both camera power and video data into one
network cable, saving on installation materials
and labor while capitalizing on PoE’s lowvoltage
power. The switches also follow the 802.3af and 802.3at standards. Therefore, choosing PoE switches was a
key factor in optimizing Blanco school district’s $100,000 project budget,
and with D-Link’s lifetime warranty, their DGS-3120 series managed
switches were an attractive choice for Blanco ISD.
PoE cable is a single, Cat-5 network cable that’s half the cost of
combo power/coax cable used in traditional, analog, CCTV applications.
Plus, the single, low-cost cable also offers the benefits of motion
detection, video analytics, audio, alarm triggers and PTZ commands—
all of which require separate, additional cables in analog installations.
Furthermore, when PoE switches are configured for remote access,
an administrator can log into the switch and turn off the power to one
individual camera port from any remote location (including mobile
devices) without having to be on the property or at the camera’s exact
Another Crucial Component:
Video Management Software
Once an IP surveillance network is installed, managing all the video
traffic efficiently from one central location becomes paramount, and
finding the right capabilities is often unique to every user. Although
there are a wide variety of VMS solutions on the market—each with
different strengths—Blanco ISD chose SiteWatch for three important
- Bandwidth. The software minimizes the bandwidth for the video
signal through the network.
- Virtualization. It allows users to link multiple servers at different
locations together to create a single, virtual string of servers.
- Ease of use. It provides an easy-to-use, intuitive user interface that
allows administrators to clearly see surveillance footage from anywhere
Powerful Technology at Work
Soon after Blanco’s May 2012 installation, the school district was
already capturing important surveillance footage. After a bathroom
was vandalized, administrators were able to track time stamps, which
led to the questioning of one particular student based on the amount
of time he had spent there. After knowing that he had been caught on
camera, the student confessed to the crime.
Aside from vandalism, IP surveillance has also helped the school
district provide visual evidence about disruptive student behavior—
and even local traffic accidents.
“It’s comforting to know that we can see what’s going on now, and if
people ask about our district’s security, we can say we have a top-ofthe-
line surveillance system,” Cozzi said.
Today, Blanco’s high school secretary has a constant view of the
front of the building and the main hallway; and the middle school
secretary, who could never see the front door before, now has a complete
view of that area and can always see who is entering and exiting.
“Not only does every workstation in the district have access to
surveillance footage, I can also view footage remotely from home
after hours; so, if there’s anything happening on campus at night, I
can assess the situation,” Cozzi said. “And if there’s criminal behavior
involved, we can revert back to the archived video to assist with
the investigation. There’s no doubt that having
cameras in obvious locations has been a big
“We’ve now got full assurance that everything
on campus is okay,” concluded Cozzi.
This article originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of Security Today.