School Security Gets its Head in the Clouds
Deploying modern video surveillance in educational institutions
- By Robert Harper
- Jan 01, 2015
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.
According to the National Center of Educational Statistics, in 2011,
more than 1.24 million students, ages 12 to 18, were victims of inschool
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 costeffective,
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
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
Tips for identifying risk:
- Quickly detect suspicious vehicles or objects by reviewing highspeed
- 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
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
- 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.
This article originally appeared in the January 2015 issue of Security Today.