Reliability and Interoperability: The Keys to Anna ISD’s Success

An integrated video and access control system enables this Texas school district to more efficiently investigate incidents. It also allows police to more effectively respond during emergencies.

A few years ago, the Anna Independent School District (ISD) was experiencing security technology challenges commonly experienced by many campuses, such as usability and reliability.

“[The video surveillance system] would stop recording on a consistent basis, and then it would be missing two to three weeks of video prior to getting it back up and running,” says district IT Director Bradley Copass. “It got to the point where that was just unacceptable for me.”

These issues, coupled with the fact that the school district had to subscribe to an expensive annual service contract for each camera prompted the decision makers to look for alternatives.
Several Vendors Considered for the Project
Rather than look at disparate systems, Copass placed interoperability and integration as key requirements for any vendor being considered.

“I relied a lot upon John Laney, chief operations officer down at North Texas Communications, mainly because they resell a number of products,” Copass says. “I told John what I wanted, and he did a lot of research. He brought three or four different companies to the table. I also called some other vendors and technology directors to get input. Ultimately, John and I compared notes and identified possible vendors.”

Related Photo Gallery: Highlights of Anna ISD’s Video, Access Control Systems Integration

The qualification process was a collaborative effort. Anna ISD and the vendor partnered to design and deploy a video surveillance system that would replace the district’s legacy control system, which was managing access control as well as video.

The decision to adopt Blue Wave Security access control came quickly enough. Recommendations from other administrators, as well as trusted advisors narrowed down the selection process in a hurry.

“Blue Wave Security has the best IT-based access control door controllers that I have ever seen in my life, and I have been doing this for over 20 years,” touts Laney. “I think their product stands alone as far as ease of installation, ease of setup and operation for qualified personnel. We thought that this was such a fantastic product that we wanted to find a video system that would allow us to implement cameras talking to the doors. Blue Wave mentioned they work with a few video suppliers that can integrate and manage all forms of access control through their camera system. This was our introduction to 3xLOGIC.”  

Integration Simplifies Incident Investigations
The ability to integrate functionality across disparate systems can elevate the functionality and capabilities of all the systems involved, or it can produce a quagmire of finger pointing and frustration. For Anna ISD, the union proved to be quite beneficial.

“We had begun the process of migrating our access control to Blue Wave Security, and the ability to integrate video with our access control, to me that is cool,” Copass says. “I wanted to tie alarms to doors, so if somebody doesn’t use a badge or somebody pulls the door open, we can flag that camera and pull up video from either direction for that incident. That is going to cut down on a lot of time spent searching video. If there is something that does transpire over the weekend, we can go to that specific incident. That’s huge!”

Video System Installation Was Fast, Easy
Anna ISD has standardized on all IP cameras, and the installation of the video system took only three days.

“I think we could have gotten it done in one day had we not had to re-IP all of the cameras,” Copass emphasizes. “With our previous system, we did not know what the user names and passwords were to get into the cameras. So, with the exception of the high school facility (because they were all brand new), we actually had to go around and manually reset and re-IP every camera.”

In a growing school district like Anna, one never knows when you will need to access files pertinent to an incident or an accident. Retention of what could prove to be critical data is essential, yet storage resources are always limited.

“What impressed me about 3xLOGIC’s VIGIL video management system was the way that they allocate memory,” Laney says. “3xLOGIC is not a memory hog. Their ability to compress files using industry standards like JPEG, MPEG-4, H.264 or their proprietary AZTECH transcoding excel in conserving storage space.”

In fact, the district’s system captures video from all of the cameras installed on their campuses and retains those images from 57 to 62 days. This is enough time to provide access to footage in the event of an incident that requires investigation.

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