December 26, 2011
At most school districts, the word “security” is synonymous with “surveillance.” It has always been and still is the most popular security technology used in schools. In fact, school video security continues to expand faster than the overall security market.
A typical urban school system, such as Miami-Dade, can easily have thousands of cameras installed throughout the district. Some of these systems are very sophisticated, leveraging advanced surveillance capabilities and utilizing a broad range of technologies. These include vandal resistant outdoor dome cameras, outdoor pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras, vandal resistant PTZ IP indoor dome cameras plus high resolution monitors to support their continuous 24/7 operation.
1. Parking Lots: K-12 installations now typically use IP/digital video. The network infrastructure is usually available, and schools have fewer restrictions on bandwidth use than corporate campuses. Administrators also find it simple to zoom-in on images, track particular scenes and enhance features with IP. From high up on the rooftop of a school building, they can zoom in and get a clear image of a license plate way across the parking lot. Plus, they can cover an entire campus from fewer locations.
2. Loading and Unloading Zones: When it comes to security at schools, as compared to higher education facilities, access controls are more defined and in place, according to Mark S. Bennett, a certified security consultant with more than 25 years of experience in the security industry. “Most schools today have clear access rules and procedures for identifying parents and visitors.”
Bennett recommends breaking down different areas and locations within facilities and applying security procedures and technologies, including security video, as specific solutions. For instance, at schools, there are threats from kidnapping, especially in the lower grades. So, surveillance along the pick-up/drop-off line is essential to providing an audit trail.
3. Hallways and Corridors: Most districts mix PTZ cameras along with fixed position cameras. It is highly recommended that they be encased in domes to avoid being vandalized. Where 360 degrees of viewing are preferred, such as in the central junction of four corridors, the PTZ cameras are placed. Individual hallways use fixed position cameras, which cost less. Monitoring where students gather helps to mitigate drug and gang activities.
4. Campus Entrances and Main Offices: Schools should also place video cameras to monitor entrances as well as at main offices and where IDs are checked. Bennett points out that new school designs typically create a vestibule where doors inside are locked and cameras placed there can provide a deterrent as well as an audit trail to determine if procedures are followed.
5. Cafeterias and Restroom Entrances: Place PTZ cameras with discreet domes in corners.
6. Restrooms: A similar approach makes sense by placing cameras outside the entrances to restrooms. The design respects privacy but could provide appropriate information if there is an incident inside a restroom. For example, schools often find threats written on restroom walls.
7. Labs and Shops: Security video can also manage safety issues such as in the automotive, welding and shop areas, and chemistry labs.
Computer labs where theft is a problem is another location that is appropriate for video surveillance.
8. Gymnasiums: There is also value in installing cameras in gymnasiums where there is the potential for fights.