The Sands Consolidated Independent School District (SCISD) in Ackerly, Texas, had been operating without a security system. There were no cameras to monitor the flow of students, teachers and others coming in and out of the buildings, and there was no access control system to secure school doors. With the number of recent attacks at schools, security cameras were needed to ensure only authorised personnel were allowed on school property for staff and student safety and to deter vandalism. The district is located in a rural area, but with easy access from a nearby State highway—with a response time of 15-20 minutes from law enforcement—so implementing a network-based pure-IP access control and video system and keeping the main campus and gym across the street secure at all times was deemed a priority during their recent school renovation and technology upgrade project.

Core security solution

The Sands CISD chose Responsive Services International Corp. (RSI, Inc.), a local technology solutions provider, to help them implement an integrated security solution. RSI installed a multifaceted system tailored to meet the district’s specified security needs. The core of the solution included 36 MOBOTIX IP indoor and outdoor security cameras and nine ISONAS PowerNet™ IP Reader-Controllers integrated with Milestone XProtect video management software (VMS). The district is operating Milestone XProtect Enterprise with a Milestone Husky M50, a 50-channel server, which is licensed for up to 40 cameras. Sands CISD opted to use five-megapixel, 180 and 360 coverage lenses on most of the MOBOTIX cameras. The camera choice enables the district to deploy fewer cameras but maintain extensive coverage of the school cafeteria and all doorways, hallways, entryways and common areas.

Both indoor and outdoor cameras record on motion detection only, as configured in the VMS to allow for recorded video storage of at least 30 days. The cameras cover all areas around school buildings, bus transportation, gym parking lots and the football field. As an added measure, the school district integrated their new voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony solution into the security system so when an individual hits the intercom key on the MOBOTIX door station at the front entrance, they appear in the Milestone interface displayed on the computer screen of an administrator, who can verify and authorise entry. This protocol keeps school personnel from getting locked out and ensures only approved visitors are let in.

This unique solution provides a seamless integration of the Milestone XProtect® Smart Client and the ISONAS Crystal Matrix software, for a security solution with unified command and control. The XProtect Smart Client manages the live video display and camera recordings while the ISONAS system does the access control in the background.

Benefits of Milestone open platform integration with Pure IP from ISONAS

In the first two months after the installation was completed, Sands CISD already realised considerable benefits from integrating the Milestone open platform IP VMS with “Pure IP” access control technology from ISONAS. The district now has comprehensive camera coverage feeding into the Milestone VMS to verify and ensure that only students, staff and other authorised personnel are allowed on campus. The access control system from ISONAS allows the district to control all doors and assign different priority levels to various Sands CISD staff. The integration with the Milestone Access Control Module also lets Sands CISD efficiently and effectively monitor the campus and respond to potential incidents from a unified user interface.

The ability to link cameras and ISONAS access points within the XProtect platform allows Henderson to view and verify events
The cameras cover all areas around school buildings, bus transportation, gym parking lots and the football field

RSI, Inc. had only 75 days to do a complete technology infrastructure overhaul – which meant installing new data cabling, new fibre optic cabling, wireless, VoIP telephony, all new servers and switches, in addition to the cameras and door access control systems. Throughout the installation, RSI received tremendous assistance from the Milestone and ISONAS technical support teams, and cited this as a significant factor in getting the project done on time and under budget.

Institutional profile

The Sands CISD is a public school district located in Ackerly, Texas. It has been in operation since 1959 and currently comprises a K-12 school with 256 students and 44 teachers and staff. The school site is two square miles including all facilities in the area.

Ease of use gets sands CISD up and running quickly

Originally, RSI had considered another solution, but decided to continue their search after experiencing installation issues on some other projects. They were looking for products that would be easy to install, implement and manage, especially because Sands CISD only has one dedicated IT employee on staff. “When we made the switch, we were only a couple of months away from the start of school,” says Chris Allen, Director of Sales and Marketing for RSI, Inc. “We were able to make this install work because of how easy and intuitive Milestone was for Sands CISD staff to learn and how seamlessly it integrated with ISONAS. Once the system was installed, in just a couple of days of training, their principal, administrators and secretarial staff could pull up live video, buzz people in and set up door access control protocols.”

MOBOTIX cameras provide quality and flexibility

Allen says choosing MOBOTIX cameras allowed the district to save money without compromising on quality. “When considering hardware for this installation, I advised the district to be mindful of licensing fees,” Allen says. “Because I felt it was important not to get locked into long-term licensing fees and contracts. MOBOTIX has no licensing or software fees and their cameras are fantastic.” With MOBOTIX’s proprietary codec for their five-megapixel cameras, school administrators can zoom in and out, fast forward and rewind footage without affecting video quality.

Allen says that the level of support and collaboration from the Milestone and MOBOTIX teams has been exemplary.

“MOBOTIX came out with new cameras, the C25 and the I25,” Allen says. “We wanted to buy and use these, but realised Milestone didn’t have those versions supported in their VMS system yet. Our Milestone representative got on the phone with MOBOTIX and gave us something that was not even released to the public yet. It was definitely a ‘wow’ moment for us and the district.”

Once the system was installed,
in just a couple of days of training,
their principal, administrators and
secretarial staff could pull up live
video, buzz people in and set up
door access control protocols

Milestone, ISONAS go above and beyond basic features

RSI, Inc. set up the ISONAS “Pure IP” access control system to unlock and lock the main door for an hour at the beginning and end of the school day, so parents can drop off and pick up their children without waiting to be buzzed in, since Sands CISD staff would be visible in the entry areas. Sands CISD has also programmed the backdoor to open at the end of a period for three minutes to allow students to get to the agricultural building, located away from main campus.

In addition to access control for the doors, ISONAS was able to provide Sands CISD with unexpected benefits. Sands CISD administrators liked the ISONAS ID access cards and decided to use the ISONAS template to create custom SANDS CISD ID badges with staff pictures on them that act as employee identification and access cards into the building.

“The teachers were pretty tired of using their keys all the time,” says Wayne Henderson, superintendent of Sands CISD. “They’re thrilled with the new system –they can get where they need to with a single swipe.”

Working with ISONAS, Henderson was also able to create different access levels for school personnel. He says that now, a small number of people have access to his office, and only coaches and specialty staff have access to the gym and auditorium. This helps ensure that teachers and staff are where they’re supposed to be at all times.

As the superintendent of a small school district with a limited staff, Henderson has many responsibilities and is often moving around campus. When he’s not in his office, he uses the Milestone Mobile client on his smartphone, which gives him real-time video viewing, as well as options for video playback and export. The ability to link cameras and ISONAS access points within the XProtect platform allows Henderson to view and verify events and alarms as well as respond to them thanks to the Milestone ACM integration with ISONAS.

“There will be times when I feel I need to be in two places at once,” Henderson says. “Milestone Mobile puts our entire security solution in the palm of my hand.”

Chris Allen says the smooth transition to Milestone and ISONAS spurred RSI, Inc. to make some significant business decisions for future projects.

“We didn’t know much about Milestone or ISONAS before we started,” says Allen. “But due to how well this installation has gone, we’ve decided to standardise all of our future deployments as much as possible with these two products and help schools around Texas improve their security measures with a cohesive integrated IP-based security solution.”

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