School districts across the nation are facing increasing demands from the public to ensure the safety of students and staff. Unfortunately, security budgets aren’t increasing at the same rate. This leaves school administrators the formidable challenge of finding economical solutions to improve security leveraging existing systems.
Existing security systems can generally be divided into the following categories: video, intrusion, access control and fire. The vast majority of schools have an existing CCTV video system. Fortunately, there are migration strategies that school districts can employ to upgrade these existing systems to the latest capabilities and benefits.
The majority of legacy video systems use analog cameras, which are most often wired via a coax or fiber cable back to a Digital Video Recorder (DVR). Taking into consideration budget constraints, here are several options that school districts can take to enhance security that don’t involve major forklift upgrades. Improve Recording Quality. One way to improve recording quality is to replace DVRs with rack-mounted encoders and Network Video Recorders (NVRs), which are managed using a Video Management System (VMS). This will provide greater storage capacity and offer higher resolutions, translating to better quality video and more of it. Instead of a week’s worth of pixelated, grainy video, you would have a month’s worth or more of fluid, VGA-clarity video. Improve Camera Quality. By replacing analog cameras with IP cameras, you’ll of course improve camera quality. IP cameras deliver HD-quality video or better, which means that when you zoom in on recordings, the image is still very good. The other advantage of some smart IP cameras is that they are capable of video analytics (VA). For example, VA can generate an alarm if students or others are loitering after-hours; if a crowd is forming; or if a vehicle is speeding. Alternatively, instead of having VA capabilities onboard an IP camera, a smart NVR can be deployed which empowers VA on any camera, including analog. It is also possible to keep the majority of the analog cameras in place and only add or replace several critical ones with IP cameras. Analog cameras could be used to assess general activity in an area, whereas the new IP cameras could be crucial for instances when high-quality identification is necessary.
Another more comprehensive strategy for leveraging existing systems to enhance security is to layer a Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) software solution on top of them. PSIM can bring all of these systems together on a single screen as if they were one. It can integrate video, intrusion, access control and fire systems so they all work together. For example, if someone forces open a door, the access control system reports this to the PSIM, which instructs the video system to swing a nearby camera to point at the intruder to capture his identity. Additionally, the PSIM could automatically trigger a lock down and simultaneously notify internal staff and local law enforcement of the situation; while providing a snapshot of the intruder’s face, a map of where the break-in occurred and any associated video footage.
The bottom line is — there are ways for school districts to get more out of the security systems they already have. These are just a few. You can read more in this article on SecurityInfoWatch.com