As one of the largest school districts in Northwest Iowa, Fort Dodge Community School District (FDCSD) is focused on providing a positive, caring, and nurturing environment for its 3,500 kindergarten to grade 12 students. Under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Douglas G. Van Zyl, FDCSD is committed to maintaining a safe and practical learning environment at all nine of its schools to enhance academics and effectively meet the needs of the community it serves. As a strong supporter of the use of security solutions in schools to protect students and staff alike, Van Zyl spearheaded the recent surveillance system upgrade at Fort Dodge Senior High School to help prevent break-ins, student disputes, vandalism, and other disruptive behaviour. The Avigilon high-definition surveillance system was chosen because it can run on the district’s existing network and delivers superior image resolution, cost-effective scalability, and advanced management functionality.The district also plans to leverage Avigilon Control Center Mobile to enable law enforcement officials and other key stakeholders to view live and recorded images wirelessly

High-definition live monitoring

Our old analogue system was not keeping up with our needs—we could not identify anyone or anything, we were running out of storage, and we could not easily share footage with local law enforcement if needed,” explained Jeremy Pearson, Supervisor of Information Technology for FDCSD. After looking at several different options, FDCSD turned to the experts at The Baker Group, a local provider of surveillance system design and installation, who recommended the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system. “The Baker Group has been a key asset throughout our deployment,” Pearson added. “Together, Avigilon and The Baker Group have far exceeded our expectations.”

High school administrators, a school resource officer, the attendance counselor, and Pearson himself use the Avigilon Control Center NVMS with HDSM technology running on the district’s existing network to manage the system from their workstations. FDCSD installed Avigilon HD 3 MP and 5 MP cameras at Fort Dodge Senior High School in the main entrances and hallways, and the cafeteria. The district also installed two Avigilon HD 8 MP 180˚ Panoramic Dome Cameras in the school’s gymnasium. FDCSD also deployed Avigilon analogue video encoders to leverage some of the existing analogue cameras located within the school. The district installed several Avigilon HD 3 MP cameras at the main district office to monitor all main entrances and purchased an Avigilon Network Video Recorder (NVR) to store up to 30 days of continuous surveillance video. The district also plans to leverage Avigilon Control Center Mobile to enable law enforcement officials and other key stakeholders to view live and recorded images wirelessly from anywhere on the network.FDCSD can share surveillance video with key stakeholders using either the client or ACC Mobile on the iPad, iPhone, or Android devices

Mobile access for effective surveillance

According to Pearson, a top feature of the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system is that it can leverage the existing network without straining bandwidth and storage. “We are able to use our current network infrastructure to run Avigilon Control Center software without having to gut it or add to it to make it work,” commented Pearson, who was initially hesitant to run the Avigilon system on the existing network for fear of overloading it. “We haven’t seen any signs of degradation with the Avigilon system or the network itself. In fact, it has remained very stable and fast.”

FDCSD was also very impressed with Avigilon’s HDSM technology, which preserves complete image integrity while still efficiently managing bandwidth and storage. “The image quality we can achieve on our network is night and day from our old system,” confirmed Pearson. “We’ve had absolutely no problems on the network—it just works.” FDCSD also likes the fact that it can share surveillance video with key stakeholders over the network, using either the client or ACC Mobile on the iPad, iPhone, or Android devices. “It’s great to have the option to access the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system on our mobile devices,” noted Pearson.

Cost-effective scalability

With system scalability a top priority, FDCSD also values the ability to cost-effectively expand the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system using its own network. “We can install an Avigilon HD camera at any of our schools and manage it centrally using Avigilon Control Center over the network for just $1,500, a vast savings compared to the $8,000 it would have cost with our old system, which would have required the installation of a separate DVR,” said Pearson.Avigilon offers the broadest range of megapixel cameras from 1 MP camera all the way up to 29 MP

FDCSD also liked that Avigilon offers the broadest range of megapixel cameras from 1 MP camera all the way up to 29 MP, providing the flexibility to grow and meet future needs as necessary. In addition, the juvenile court school liaison at the high school, who is the system’s heaviest user, loves the search and playback capabilities of Avigilon Control Center software, which allows him to use the system for maximum results. In fact, he has already successfully used surveillance video as evidence in court. “The quality of the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system is top notch—from the high-definition cameras to the compression technology used to deliver high resolution images across our network to the software that facilitates management,” said Pearson. “The other products we looked at do not deliver the image quality, advanced features, or cost-effective scalability we need to deploy the system district-wide. Avigilon does.”

Safe learning environment

Leveraging the advanced management features of Avigilon Control Center software, Pearson can easily maintain the system with minimal effort and time. “Avigilon Control Center just runs itself,” said Pearson. With his previous system, Pearson had to do a lot of maintenance. “Out of 180 work days, we would spend on average 7 or 8 days maintaining the old system – with Avigilon, we simply never have to work on it.” As a result, the team has reduced their maintenance time by 100 percent.

Committed to delivering the best education possible, Fort Dodge Community School District is constantly updating its programmes and modernising facilities to provide the safest and most stimulating learning environment possible. In fact, the district is currently building a new middle school designed to provide students with a 21st century learning environment that will extend its teaching capabilities even further. “The new middle school will be monitored using 70 Avigilon HD cameras and two Avigilon NVRs to ensure broad coverage of the entire facility,” concluded Pearson. “Ultimately, our goal is to have all our schools up and running on the Avigilon high-definition surveillance system in our effort to safeguard students and staff across the district.”

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