A Known Leader

Implementing an all-in-one solution to protect staff and students

With 19 schools serving 11,800 students from preschool to grade 12, the Liberty Public School (LPS) district in Clay County, Missouri is the second fastest growing district in the state. As one of the most progressive districts in Missouri, LPS has become a known leader in school safety, implementing comprehensive policies and state-of-the art security technology to protect students and staff.

SAFE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT

At the heart of its Safe School initiative is a controlled electronic entry system that runs on the Avigilon Access Control Manager (ACM) software and is integrated with the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system for a complete, all-in-one security platform that effectively and reliably ensures a safe learning environment for everyone.

The challenge was to deploy an integrated access control and video surveillance system to protect students, staff and assets and create the safest learning environment for students.

Liberty Public Schools (LPS) centrally manages its access control and HD video surveillance system using ACM and the Avigilon Control Center (ACC) software with high definition stream management technology.

ACM is paired with Mercury hardware and readers at the main entrances of all 22 buildings. LPS installed 300 Avigilon HD 1 MP and 2 MP cameras and uses analog video encoders to boost the performance of its existing analog cameras. The school district stores at least one week of continuous video surveillance footage.

DEMANDING PERFORMANCE

Previously, LPS used a competitor’s access control system and IP video management software, and a variety of analog and IP cameras, to control access and monitor its facilities. However, when the U. S. recession hit, the district was forced to bring system management in-house to cut costs.

“We couldn’t keep paying the high support and licensing costs associated with our old system,” said Curt Laven, technology specialist at Liberty Public Schools.

The district set out to find a more cost-effective, Web-based access control solution that could integrate with the high-definition surveillance system and other IT systems for central management. Before installation, LPS only had one license from another manufacturer on a dedicated workstation, so only one person could manage the system.

“This solution allows us to centrally manage building access and video surveillance from any location while giving administrators at each building visibility into school activity without having to invest in steep licensing fees,” Laven said.

SEARCH 10 TIMES FASTER

For search and playback, the ACC software is also incredible easy to use.

“Previously, we had six DVRs, so we would have to search through all of them separately to try to piece together the chronology of an event,” Laven said. “ACC lets us conduct a search 10 times faster than before and then easily export video to DVD for police investigation.”

Laven can also quickly bookmark events and store them indefinitely for future investigation. Local police have been impressed with the system’s image quality and ease-of-use.

“We have been able to deliver court-ready evidence in several cases.”

TIME AND COST SAVER

Because the integrated access control and high-definition surveillance system is so easy to use, Laven has been able to save a lot of time on daily tasks. For example, he was able to switch over from their old system to the new solution in less than an hour per building, with virtually no outages for users.

“I used to spend four days each year rebooting our old DVRs due to daylight savings time, but now I can update the entire system from my desk in just minutes,” said Laven, who uses the time saved for other more proactive tasks. It is also quick and easy to scale servers to meet future needs. “It is so easy to add new servers,” he said.

Additional cost savings are achieved because LPS was able to consolidate all its servers onto just one rack, reducing space and energy consumption.

ALL-IN-ONE SOLUTION

The fact that ACM integrates so seamlessly with the ACC software was a big benefit.

“With access control systems and more than 900 surveillance cameras across 22 facilities, we needed an integrated and centrally manageable solution,” Laven said. The entire system is managed in the data center using the ACC software with High Definition Stream Management (HDSM) technology. ACM is paired with Mercury Security hardware and readers at all main entrances. LPS installed a total of 300 HD 1 MP and 2 MP cameras and analog video encoders to boost the performance of its existing analog cameras.

“We’ve seen a huge jump in image quality since deploying the Avigilon encoders,” Laven said.

The district is required to store one week of continuous surveillance video, but often surpasses this amount.

“The surveillance system delivers efficient bandwidth use, especially compared to other HD cameras, so we can store the footage we need,” said Laven. “For example, one camera pulls 1.5 MB of data per second on a windy day, while a competing camera in the same situation pulls 3 MB.”

Laven installed the new access control and surveillance system, from card readers to HD cameras and encoders.

“Even without any training, it was ridiculously easy,” Laven said. “By handling installation in-house, we were able to reduce our costs.”

SEAMLESS INTEGRATION

The fact that ACM integrates seamlessly with the district’s IT systems, such as Active Directory, was high on the list of requirements.

“The ease of integration is a true game changer,” Laven said.

Before, individual accounts, roles, and policies were not synchronized across all network appliances in real-time, creating an administrative headache.

“One teacher had three different accounts, cards and photos because we didn’t have a central way of managing our data,” Laven said.

Now, when Laven removes someone from Active Directory, it updates in ACM as well, ensuring a much more accurate and up-to-date system.

By integrating with Active Directory, Laven can centrally manage access privileges to IT systems and building doors based on assigned user roles to ensure administrators never see more than they need to.

AN EASY BUTTON FOR SECURITY

As an all-in-one solution, the system is easy to manage and support. Offering one platform instead of multiple technologies trying to work together, LPS said it makes system management so easy.

For example, using auto-focus, Laven can refocus camera lenses remotely with the click of a button, instead of having to physically work on each camera. Laven said this is a giant easy button for security.

LEVERAGING EXISTING HARDWARE

Another key requirement of the new access control system was that it be able to support open field hardware from various manufacturers. By working with our existing card readers and control panels, the school saved installation time and reduced infrastructure costs. The Avigilon team was also able to quickly solve a problem with the district’s old door readers to make it work with ACM.

A DREAM SOLUTION

The access control and high-definition surveillance system gives LPS the variety and quality of video evidence needed to respond quickly and efficiently to incidents before an incident becomes serious.

This article originally appeared in the July 2016 issue of Security Today.

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