School Security Gets its Head in the Cloud

School Security Gets its Head in the Cloud

Schools, universities and colleges have always viewed safety as a high priority. These institutions are the keepers of our society’s most valuable asset: our future. Student and staff safety is crucial to an exceptional educational experience. Like every other part of society, educational institutions are not immune to crime and violence. In fact, over the last decade, disasters and crime have affected campuses with an alarming frequency.School Security Gets its Head in the Cloud

According to the National Center of Educational Statistics, in 2011, more than 1.24 million students, ages 12-18, were victims of in-school crimes. Yearly trends suggest that this year 4 percent of all U.S. students will be a victim of a crime committed on an educational campus. These millions of tragedies sometimes cause death or injury, and almost always cause monetary losses, as well as a disruption to learning, research and public service. Even if your school or campus hasn't made national headlines for crime, when school tragedies and crimes are highlighted in the news, parents, students and faculty start to look around their own facility for that extra level of security.

Solely relying on physical security to reduce crime is extremely expensive, not to mention, it can create a less-than-comfortable learning environment. Preferring to devote budget for enhancing education rather than security, most educators are looking for value in every security purchase. To meet demand and stay competitive, the private security sector has been innovating new cost-effective technologies to help build safer and more disaster-resistant schools and campuses. As a result, more educational institutions are adopting advanced security technology and implementing more modern approaches to maximizing risk management, increasing student and faculty protection, and enhancing overall campus safety.

Video Surveillance and the Cloud

For years, video surveillance technology has served as a critical piece of risk management and protection for institutions. Yesterday’s surveillance solution was largely used as a forensic tool, only providing evidence of crimes that had already occurred or as a deterrent to those who didn't want to get caught. Limited to choices between traditional CCTV and dated network surveillance systems that required constant monitoring with expensive analytic features, surveillance was not largely used as a proactive tool.

Then, along came the cloud.

With rapid advancements in cloud computing and video surveillance software, the surveillance technology marketplace is significantly different from what it was just a decade ago. Today’s video surveillance solution lives in the cloud and is not only used for live monitoring and forensic data, but it also comes equipped with cost-effective, proactive cloud tools that offer live intelligence, motion detection, automated alerts, integrated access control, remote management and secure cloud storage. These tools enable video surveillance solutions to reduce a variety of liabilities, threats and challenges all while making rich surveillance data easy to understand and simple to manage. Bottom line, it helps less security staff provide more security than ever before.

One of the earliest innovators and pioneers of cloud video surveillance technology is Smartvue Corp. Smartvue has been developing cloud video surveillance technology and software since the mid-90s, with the goal of leveraging the cloud to make all the surveillance tools and analytics programs that were once only used by large corporations and government security available to the masses.

“Our goal is to make the world a safer and smarter place by delivering complex video technologies in a simple and elegant cloud surveillance solution,” said Martin Renkis, CEO and founder of Smartvue. “Making simple things complicated is common in the security industry, so we focus on making complicated things very simple.”

Behind all of Smartvue’s awards and patents, and aside from a high-tech building full of software developing gurus, it seems Smartvue’s secret to success is “elegantly simple.” The real key to the cloud changing video surveillance into something new and more powerful hides in its simplicity. If it’s simple enough for anyone to use then people will actually use it, reap the benefits and campuses will become more secure.

Cloud Enhances Four Principles of Modern Risk Management

Cloud video surveillance technology provides the platform for an effective, integrated risk management system. The ability to capture thousands of hours of video footage is okay, if you have someone to watch thousands of hours of video footage. Easy-to-use, cloud surveillance tools can take those hours of footage and simplify them into motion events, and even send automatic alerts via email or text as events occur. Surveillance data can be quickly monitored, reviewed, shared and archived anywhere in the world with any computer, tablet or smartphone. In addition, fewer people can manage more when staff is no longer stuck behind a monitor reviewing data, or forced to travel to back-up and manage DVRs. Institutions can centrally manage surveillance data wherever they choose, and sharing information only takes seconds.

All of these characteristics working together enhance the four principles of modern risk management:

Risk identification. Properly identifying risk is critical to developing an effective risk management process. Cloud video surveillance data can be utilized to proactively identify the specific extent and circumstances of potential risks, enabling institutions to be more informed in decision making and risk prioritization. Most commonly, crime and accidents occur when security and controls are poor or nonexistent.

Tips for identifying risk:

  • Quickly detect suspicious vehicles or objects by reviewing high-speed footage.
  • Identify suspicious patterns, trends or weaknesses in security measures.

Risk assessment. Video surveillance is an important tool when assessing a potential risk or incident. Having access to a host of effective tools to quickly assess the incident and share findings can be invaluable. No matter if using a desktop computer in the back office or a smartphone while patrolling the campus grounds, employees can quickly review the extent and impact of the incident, determine if it could happen again, start thinking about control measures and share the surveillance information through the cloud.

Tips for risk assessment:

  • Receive automated, real-time alerts via text or email when people enter high-risk or suspicious areas.
  • Receive alerts for motion detection at set times.

Risk response. When responding, regardless if it is an obstructed fire exit, an injured student in a stairwell or a potential intruder at an access control point, there should be a direct plan of action for all predetermined identified risks. A cloud surveillance platform, when used properly, can help reduce response time by enabling institutions to see potential risk and incidents in real time, remotely lock down buildings and share surveillance data with staff, first responders or law enforcement.

Also, having access to a host of cloud surveillance tools such as quick video review, automated alerts, motion detection and integrated access control can help alert staff and significantly shorten response time.

Tips for risk response:

  • Remotely review and instantly share surveillance of an event to prevent the crime from being completed.
  • Use integrated access control to remotely lock down key access points.
  • Prevent organized crime more effectively by instantly sharing surveillance of the criminal technique across all locations.

Review. Saving clips, reviewing data and grading risks for training or prosecution can be streamlined with cloud surveillance tools. Reducing hours of review time frees staff, allowing them to focus on training and identifying new risks. Cloud video surveillance can also be used to determine if approved security processes are being performed correctly and serve as a review in safety training drills. Using cloud surveillance to monitor these types of activities can help reinforce desired practices and sharpen response times.

Tips for reviewing data:

  • Remotely monitor and review process compliance to increase performance in response.
  • Teach and train staff on proper security procedures and protocols.

Finally, since risk comes in so many shapes and forms, it’s crucial to have a reliable cloud surveillance system from a trusted brand. This is new technology, and it’s important to choose a well-tested service.

About the Author

Robert Harper is the president of ACS Security Integration.

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