Extraordinary Protection

Audio and video surveillance system helps protect students with special needs

Following several high-profile incidents alleging abuse special needs students (including some non-communicative students), and the activism of a number of parent groups in the state of texas, governor greg abbott signed texas senate bill 507, requiring districts to install audio and video surveillance equipment into select special education classrooms when requested.

The new law, which followed a similar, failed attempt at similar mandates in 2013, requires the installation of cameras and recorders in classrooms meeting certain criteria—if and when a parent, school board member or school staff requests them from the 2016-2017 school year forward. Surveillance must cover all areas in a classroom, with bathrooms and changing areas excepted, and recorded footage must be retained for a minimum of six months.

While reactions to the new requirement have varied, many Texas school districts have begun the work of bringing relevant educational spaces into compliance with the law. One of those districts, the Edna Independent School District, located just under two hours southwest of Houston, TX, moved promptly, with Superintendent Robert O’Connor noting the importance of compliance to larger Edna ISD mission.

“In Edna ISD, the safety of our students, teachers, and staff is a key part of our educational mission,” said O’Connor. “When those in our schools, and the families that love them, know their environment is safe and secure, the educational mission can thrive. As such, we have embraced the SB 507 requirements as yet another tool in ensuring an ideal learning environment for all, providing additional support and protection for our special needs population.”

Significantly, SB 507 was not accompanied by additional funding for implementation, requiring school districts to cover the cost of surveillance purchases and installation from existing funds (though the does did permit the acceptance of donations, grant money, and allowed for the eventual creation of a grant program that could reimburse some school districts for upfront costs at a later date). This further focused the requirement for school districts such as Edna ISD, beyond the simple purchase and installation of new surveillance solutions, to include the identification of surveillance solutions able to provide maximum quality with a low total cost of ownership, to be as responsive as possible to the law, student needs, and existing budgetary requirements.

Edna ISD began working with PSX, Inc. an experienced provider of security solutions, with specialized experience in school security technologies— including video surveillance, access control, visitor management, and mass notification. Having completed more than 100 installations at schools in recent years, PSX understood the unique requirements—and challenges—school districts face in selecting and implementing security solutions.

Carefully considering Edna ISD’s requirements for a highest-quality surveillance solution, capable of audio recording and coverage in compliance with the law, along with their need for a fiscally responsible solution that minimized total cost of ownership, while maximizing value, PSX recommended the IDIS Total Solution’s DirectIP line. The DirectIP range of surveillance technology from IDIS, South Korea’s largest security manufacturer (regionally headquartered in Dallas, Texas) features next-generation HD and IP technologies, and is known for its ease of installation and maintenance, near-unlimited modularity and scalability, as well as a lack of the unnecessary licensing and maintenance fees often charged by surveillance manufacturers.

Offerings that feature such combinations of technical and costeffective benefits have proven a strong fit for school districts, including Edna ISD, looking to meet SB507 requirements without sacrificing quality for cost, something that is important to institutions such as public schools, charged with both optimal execution of their core educational mission and careful stewardship of public funds.

Added O’Connor, “We were committed to doing this with only the best technology the industry had to offer, while also remaining responsible to our taxpayers throughout the process. The IDIS combination of a fully scalable solution of full-featured technology, with a lower total cost of ownership than typically seen in the industry, made it the right choice for our needs.”

The solution crafted by PSX meets Edna ISD’s SB 507 compliance requirements with a custom configuration of IDIS cameras and recorders for multiple classrooms and sites. At the heart of the solution is the IDIS DirectIP Super Fisheye Camera, which features breakthrough technology designed to solve common concerns found with many other fisheye models, specifically setting new standards for client, camera and mobile dewarping, delivering a clearer picture for the strongest possible assessment and documentation of incidents.

An additional value-add for Edna ISD was the standard- inclusion of the company’s award-winning IDIS Smart UX Controls (named a 2016 “New Product of the Year” by Security Products magazine), which allow for agile real-time pointing and zooming in a simplified and smooth manner previously unheard of in the security industry. Other standard benefits, including two-way communication and the powerful recording and storage technology the company is known for, made the solution an ideal one for Edna ISD’s needs.

Keith Drummond, Senior Director at IDIS America, noted, “At IDIS, we come to work every day determined to offer the best, most feature-rich, and most affordable surveillance technology we can to the marketplace. However, it is projects like these that really bring home the real-world importance and power of what we do. Many of us are parents and we all treasure the diverse student populations in our communities.

“Edna ISD has proven to be at the forefront of both security and education through the selection and installation of some of the best technology the market has available. While SB 507 compliance has proven a challenge for some school districts, they’ve shown an uncompromising commitment to its special needs students through the selection of technology that provides easy real-time review of classroom behavior and provides the best, clearest evidence possible should an incident occur. I commend the vision shared by Superintendent O’Connor and the entire Edna ISD in selecting a forward-thinking surveillance system that is both highly technologically advanced and responsibly affordable.”

The successful installations, covering multiple classrooms and school sites, demonstrate Edna ISD’s commitment to its special needs communities—including students, teachers, and family members—by providing the highest quality in video and audio monitoring in support of meeting and exceeding care and education standards that are second to none.

This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of Security Today.

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