Located roughly 30 miles southwest of Los Angeles, Torrance Unified School District hosts roughly 24,000 students from kindergarten through high school. Torrance USD has 34 school sites encompassing elementary schools, middle schools and high schools. They’re joined by three preschool, continuation and community day schools.
Violent crime and other offenses are an inescapable reality for US schools and their students. During the 2013–14 school year, 65 percent of public schools [Source: U.S. Department of Education] recorded one or more violent incidents occurring, representing an estimated total of 757,000 incidents. This figure translates to a rate of approximately 15 crimes per 1,000 students enrolled in 2013–14.
“Visibility of what happens on campus gives us the upper hand with all forms of crime that may be committed. School safety is our number one concern and being able to see what’s happening and identify those involved is paramount. Sony cameras definitely give us that advantage. Their reliability, imaging quality and technology – combined with outstanding service – made Sony the best choice for us.” Gil Mara, Chief Ed Tech and Information Services Officer, Torrance Unified School District
While Torrance consistently ranks among the safest cities in Los Angeles County, its schools face the same challenges as other academic institutions. In common with all school systems, TUSD has an obligation to maintain the safety, security and wellbeing of students as well as staff and campus visitors. Alongside violent assault, other key concerns include theft, break-ins, vandalism and graffiti – together with the need to maintain a visible deterrent against criminal activity.
Sub-standard image quality
Torrance Unified School District had relied on some ad-hoc installations at a few schools that were both poorly planned and had no consistent standards
To date, Torrance Unified School District had relied on some ad-hoc installations at a few schools that were both poorly planned and had no consistent standards in place. The cameras poor positioning and sub-standard image quality – particularly in low light conditions – meant that perpetrators were frequently not identified successfully. This severely limited schools’ ability to resolve incidents and serve as an effective deterrent against further incidents.
In addition to physical attacks and theft, schools in the district routinely reported instances of vandalism to the cameras themselves. As a further challenge, the heat and dust of the Southern Californian climate placed even more strenuous demands on the reliable performance of Torrance Unified School District’s existing analogue cameras.
Security camera strategy
To benefit from significantly improved round the clock image quality – as well as greater reliability and reduced ownership costs – Torrance Unified School District elected to re-think its security camera strategy.
In total, the district has installed roughly 1,100 Sony video security cameras across 34 school sites. All cameras have been supplied and installed by integrator NIC, together with a networked video management solution provided by OpenEye. The majority of cameras are Sony SNC-EM632RC and SNC-VB632D ruggedised minidome model and bullet cameras, offering superb Full HD image quality in all weather and lighting conditions. “Torrance police have access to our security camera system and it affords them visibility on our campuses, as was the case just recently where a vehicle burglary suspect was identified and apprehended thanks to our Sony Video Security system.” Will Boxley – Network Analyst, EDU Tech and Information Services.
Measurable effect on student safety
Reliable cameras are deployed extensively around all outdoor areas of each school campus, including social and sports areas as well as parking lots
The cameras’ highly sensitive Exmor CMOS image sensor and powerful IPELA ENGINE EX processing engine can even cope with harshly backlit conditions, where extremes of light and shade in the same scene often pose problems for other cameras. As an additional benefit, built-in IR (infrared) illumination gives a clear picture of people and suspicious incidents in conditions of total darkness.
The rugged, reliable cameras are deployed extensively around all outdoor areas of each school campus, including social and sports areas as well as parking lots. Since initial installation in 2015, the Sony cameras have performed flawlessly, with no operational issues reported by IT and security staff.
The cameras’ installation has had an immediate and measurable effect on student safety. Suspensions due to violence and assaults have been reduced considerably, while the incidence of weapons on campus has been reduced by more than 40%. What’s more, the cameras’ presence serves to reassure students and staff, while acting as a powerful deterrent against criminal activity.