Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Cleveland, Tennessee., Lee University is a private Christian university that offers a comprehensive liberal arts education with 52 different majors and 120 individual study programmes. The university boasts an enrollment of more than 5,000 students from 49 states and 54 countries.
It has consistently ranked as a “Top Tier” school in the South by U.S. News and World Report and has also been rated by the Princeton Review as one of the best colleges in the southeast. The campus itself is vast, encompassing more than 100 acres and featuring a variety of academic buildings, athletic facilities and student dormitories.
Preventing crime with video surveillance network
While crime is not as big of a challenge for the university as it is for schools that are located in major urban areas, the campus is certainly not immune to it. About four years ago, the campus suffered a rash of car break-ins that unnerved faculty and students. In the wake of the crimes, school administrators decided to install a network of video surveillance cameras to augment its security programme.
According to Chris Golden, Lee University’s Director of IT Operations, the college initially installed approximately 35 IP cameras, which included a mix of both indoor and outdoor models, as part of what was phase one of a larger surveillance project intended to provide greater video coverage throughout the campus. While the majority of the cameras were focused on parking areas to address the growing threat of car burglaries, some were also deployed inside one of the school’s student recreation centres to help deter theft, and monitor high-traffic entries and exits.
The old VMS was such a hindrance that it ended
Problems with video management system
However, it wasn’t long after the network was up and running that security staff began having trouble with the video management system, which was an appliance-based solution.
“The software we had was complicated and clunky. When we wanted to review footage, operators had to change video settings,” explained Golden. “And anytime there was an incident and they had to view recorded video, IT had to get involved and retrieve the video file. Things shouldn’t be that hard.”
The old VMS was such a hindrance, in fact, that it ended up costing the university more money than they had originally budgeted because every time a camera was added to the network, more storage was needed to accommodate it.
Arteco VEMS helps address university challenges
To help alleviate the burden the VMS was placing on the video system, Lee University consulted with a group of trusted vendors and resellers. After evaluating a number of the top brands in the industry, the university opted to deploy Arteco’s Video Event Management System (VEMS).
According to Golden, Arteco’s VEMS solution helped the university address some of its biggest challenges. Among these were making sure the university could meet its video storage retention requirements, not overtaxing the network as more cameras were added, providing security staff with a user-friendly experience, and reducing the time IT had to spend interacting with the system.
“We’re just a small IT shop, so the more I can pass a system on to my team and only step in when there are problems, the better it is for me. Then I can spend my time with other higher priority issues,” Golden said.
Given the scale of the university and the IT infrastructure management responsibilities, the process of migrating to a new video management system had to be seamless as well.
“We handed the Arteco system off to our campus safety team and now when there is any kind of incident, they can pull the video themselves,” Golden added. “Also, when there is turnover in the security department, they can simple manage user access to the system and make any necessary changes.”
Students and faculty members now feel safer knowing that video surveillance is an additional tool for campus safety
Difference in video management quality
Having used the Arteco VEMS platform for nearly three years now, Golden said the difference in video management quality they’ve experienced has been night and day. Not only has the security staff enjoyed a more user-friendly experience, but they rarely, if ever, have contact to university’s IT team. In fact, during a recent computer upgrade, several campus safety officers were able to download the software and set it up on their newly issued university laptops with very little assistance.
From an IT perspective, Golden said the Arteco software has not only been simple and straightforward to manage, but he’s also received top notch technical support – be it through online tutorials or a quick phone call. He added that Lee University has seen both tangible and intangible benefits as a result of the Arteco deployment.
Success in campus crime prevention
Video has aided in the capture of people breaking into cars and harassing others on the campus. In one particular instance, the video was turned over to the Cleveland Police Department, which made several arrests as a result. Beyond that, Golden said students and faculty members now feel safer knowing that video surveillance is an additional tool for campus safety.
“It gives our students a sense of security. They can focus on their academics and having a good experience at college,” he said. “Every now and then one of the campus safety directors will come up to me and say, ‘hey, the system paid off again, we were able to solve a crime and get the video over to the police department and they made an arrest,’ and that makes you feel good.”
The university is currently planning to embark on phase two of its video project, which will greatly enhance the number of cameras on campus, as soon as funding can be secured. Golden said the Arteco VEMS will serve as the backbone of all future video deployments on the campus.