Some questions are easy to ask but hard to answer, like how dangerous are our schools? In 2007 the CDC reported 5.9% of surveyed US students admitted to carrying a weapon (gun, knife, etc.) into school within the past 30 days. It also reported that 7.8% of students admitted to having been threatened or injured by a weapon in the past 12 months and that 12.4% had actually been physically involved in fight at least once.
Security Magazine recently commented on grants for law enforcement to work more closely with school districts using video surveillance systems to increase security and situational awareness. While most schools’ cameras will not be monitored live 24×7, when it comes to managing situations, it’s still priceless for police to be able to view live feeds (which they can usually do wirelessly through a secure network). Some would even argue — myself included — that it shouldn’t always just be about video, although video is a critical component. Good video management systems have workflow elements to help situation management, and that may suffice. But some command centers may want to combine information from multiple systems – video, access control, intrusion, fire or internet feeds carrying real-time data on anything from severe weather to related local incidents.
This particulararticle mentions one school district. But consider this. There are approximately 15,000 school districts in the US, including about 65,000 Elementary and 24,000 Secondary schools. It’s hard to say just how many of these schools use video surveillance but for those that currently do not, introducing an IP-based camera system would go a long way toward extending those schools outward to law enforcement. For those that do have an existing system, I’m going to take an educated guess and say it’s most likely VCR or older DVR technology. In those cases, substituting multi-channel encoders will go a long way toward making the video more accessible to local law enforcement. It would also improve the reliability of the recording for forensics, and hopefully give some peace of mind to everyone, including the 10% of teachers who in 2003 reported having been threatened or attacked by students.