Mission Possible: Campus Security Systems Integration

Although many skeptics believe that campuses can’t effectively integrate their public safety systems, the officials at the East Stroudsburg Area School District have demonstrated it can be achieved. With the help of an access control platform, the district has integrated its access control, video, intrusion, fire and HVAC systems.

Public Safety Receives Strong Support from the Top

Another key to East Stroudsburg’s successful security systems integration was its inclusion of security personnel in the planning process.

“Safety and security are tightly woven into our core services administratively,” says Forsyth. “When our cabinet meets on a weekly basis to discuss issues, the chief of police is present, so everyone hears what is going on in the district.”

Becker adds that “East Stroudsburg has very strong leadership at the top administrative level that endorses and champions technology. This in turn breeds a culture among the principals in the school district who then also embrace the technology in their buildings.”

Access Control Platform Ties Systems Together

Picking the right technology has been another key to the district’s success. About 12 years ago, CSI installed Northern Computers access control software in the district because it was a very stable platform with a good track record. Since then, Honeywell purchased Northern Computers and has expanded the platform. An upgraded version now manages East Stroudsburg’s access control, video surveillance, fire and intrusion systems so each technology works together in a cohesive, intelligent fashion.

“I want them all talking on one front-end interface,” says Forsyth. “Honeywell has been able to do that. We’ve done the same thing with our HVAC systems because they’re an integral part of our emergency management and security response. You need to be able to shut those down remotely.”

Because East Stroudsburg had quite a few legacy security systems, it was important for those to be incorporated whenever it was cost effective to do so. Fortunately—and also by design—the Honeywell platform is backward compatible, meaning it can integrate much of this older equipment, such as the district’s black-and-white cameras that were purchased in the early 90s.

The new platform also provides a migration path for technologies that haven’t been developed yet. To ensure a smooth migration, Forsyth requires that all security systems specified by East Stroudsburg are compatible with the Honeywell software platform.

Vendors Have Long-term Relationships With District

In addition to Honeywell, other trusted vendors have been involved with the district for many years, which helps ensure the quality of the workmanship and security technology installed.

“We’ve h
ad consistent players, even subcontractors—stable local businesses that have been able to provide competitive bids and be the lowest responsible bidders consistently, like CSI,” says Forsyth.

CSI has worked with East Stroudsburg for 25 years. Because of this long-term relationship, the integrator’s employees, as well as other contractors and subcontractors who have been associated with the district for several years, know the layout of the schools, the stakeholders involved and the quality of work that is expected.

“Even if you get another electrician next time on a project, they are wise enough to say, ‘Use the same subcontractor as last time because they did a great job.’ They know what’s out there, and we don’t want trouble or finger pointing because one guy’s system doesn’t work with another guy’s system,” Forsyth adds.

Recent Network Upgrades Enable Integration

Probably one of the most significant factors that led to the effective integration of all of these systems was the installation of an improved network infrastructure throughout the district.

“It’s only been in the past few years that they’ve put their own infrastructure in place to tie all these buildings together,” says Becker. “We need a robust infrastructure because no matter where the information comes from – a curriculum supporting system, a security system or communications system – that information has to be flown across the school or campus to wherever it is needed. The system that does that is the network backbone.”

Technological advances that have occurred over the past three or four years have also played a key role in the success of East Stroudsburg’s integration initiatives. And according to CSI Marketing Director Dan Capwell, more improvements are just around the corner.

“Something that maybe wasn’t even considered a few years ago could now be available,” he says. “Now, when they’re thinking about what they want their district to look like, they should think big and take it from there.”

View the East Stroudsburg Area District photo gallery.

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About the Author

robin hattersley headshot

Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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