The customer

Located in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, North Hennepin Community College (NHCC) is one of the largest and most diverse community colleges in the state, serving more than 10,000 students enrolled in 60 degree and certificate programmes. With a rich tradition of excellence in teaching and learning, NHCC offers an exceptional student experience at one of the safest campuses in the country. NHCC’s all-inclusive public safety programme includes regular foot and vehicle patrol, set building alarms, access control and a campus-wide surveillance system. To further enhance student safety, NHCC has also installed MicroPower Technologies’ solar-powered, wireless MicroPower Surveillance Platform in its main parking lot for powerful, cost-effective and reliable 24x7 coverage.

The challenge

Campus safety is a top priority for college administrators, who are constantly looking for new ways to provide an open academic environment while ensuring student safety. With a far-reaching security plan already in place, North Hennepin Community College was left with one area that needed better coverage: the school’s parking lots. “We see a large amount of activity in our parking lots, ranging from vehicle break-ins and tampering to hit and run accidents, which we have not been able to effectively monitor with our existing cameras,” explained Erik Pakieser, Director of Public Safety at NHCC. “Staff, students and parents have asked for more coverage in these areas and we are committed to meeting their needs.”

However, limited by budget, the college simply could not afford to install a surveillance system that would require trenching concrete to install electrical and network cables. In addition, the building that would have to support any additional hardwired cameras in the parking lots did not have an adequate power supply. “Every time we discussed parking lot surveillance, the conversation was over before it began because of the extraordinarily high costs of hardwiring,” added Pakieser.

On the recommendation of Paragon, a single-source provider of converged IP/IT security solutions, NHCC selected the MicroPower Surveillance Platform to monitor activity across the South West Parking Lot, the campus’ main parking area. “We didn’t look at any other solutions,” asserted Pakieser. “MicroPower was the only wireless solution available that would allow us the cover such a large area without running network or power cables, and deliver video we required.”

MicroPower solution

NHCC installed 10 MicroPower video surveillance cameras mounted on 40-foot light poles throughout the parking lot. As an open-platform system, MicroPower is managed using the existing Milestone Video Management System for easy, central monitoring. “We couldn’t afford to invest in a separate client, so it was imperative that the new platform integrate seamlessly with the Milestone VMS,” noted Pakieser. “If not, it would’ve been a deal-breaker.”

Public safety, human resource and maintenance personnel have access to the MicroPower platform, which is monitored in real-time by Public Safety officers. “Our officers like the MicroPower surveillance platform because they can see so much more than before and it is easy to manage using the familiar Milestone software,” said Pakieser. The MicroPower Surveillance Platform is used primarily for public safety reasons, but human sauces sometimes leverages footage to resolve employee issues or liability claims. “All feedback on the new systems has been very positive.”

NHCC installed 10 MicroPower 720p megapixel video surveillance cameras mounted on 40-foot light poles throughout the parking lot. As an open-platform system, MicroPower is managed using the existing Milestone Video Management System for easy, central monitoring
NHCC installed 10 MicroPower cameras
throughout the parking lot, which are
managed using the existing
Milestone Video Management System

Paragon installed the MicroPower platform without difficulty, and all users were up and running with minimal training. “We upgraded the CMS to gain enhanced functionality with the MicroPower platform,” added Pakieser. “Now, we have access to more search and playback featured that let us better leverage the excellent surveillance footage we have of the parking lot.”

Results

According to Pakieser, the top selling feature of the MicroPower Surveillance Platform is the dramatic cost-savings it delivers. Its unique zero-cable design minimises deployment time, reduces installation complexity and does not require trenching. “There was simply no way we could’ve moved forward if we had to trench, so having a wireless option was a very, very big deal," stated Pakieser. A hardwired surveillance system would’ve cost thousands more, making it unfeasible. “A wireless solution was the difference between having parking lot surveillance and not.”

The college has also seen a reduction in operational expenses since deploying the solar-powered MicroPower Surveillance Platform, which operates on only ¾ Watts and supplies a minimum of five days of back-up power on a single charge of its battery packs. “We can cut our electricity costs because we aren’t powering the cameras,” said Pakieser, who added that the college doesn’t have to worry about overloading its existing power supply either. “MicroPower helps with our budget and allows us to reduce our environmental footprint – a fact that has been well-received by the campus community.”

Maintenance costs have also been lowered, due in part to the durability of the cameras. In fact, the college has experienced no downtime since they were installed. “The cameras also hold up well under the extreme weather conditions here in Minnesota,” said Pakieser. In fact, the system has required little to no maintenance so far. Public Service officers also save time because they no longer have to patrol the area on foot. “We can use the system in lieu of foot patrol, and quickly and easily review high-quality video to expedite investigations.”

Pakieser also likes that MicroPower incorporates security features and a robust wireless network protocol to ensure that video data is protected and highly available, even in the event of network disruptions. “The IT team had no problem getting the platform running on the network and can easily support the system to ensure optimal uptime”.

The MicroPower solution has changed the face of security at NHCC, providing remote, wireless surveillance where it was once impossible. “From a security standpoint, the MicroPower platform has been a huge help in our daily monitoring and investigating of parking lot incidents and a proactive step towards complete, campus-wide security,” concluded Pakieser. By providing high-quality video footage of the parking lot, the new system will also help reduce the potentially high costs of liability claims. “We are very happy with the performance, reliability and cost-effectiveness of the MicroPower Surveillance Platform and plan to install it across our other two working parking in the very near future”.

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