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Malmö schools: A case study

Vandalism and arson attacks at schools have been on the rise in the Swedish city of Malmö since 2001. In the five years between 2001-2006, school property damage cost the city more than 60 million Swedish Krona (SEK), the equivalent of nearly $6.5 million USD. In addition to parents not feeling safe about sending their children to school, academic performance also dropped, as many students found it difficult to concentrate with so much disruption.

The municipality of Malmö realized that something had to be done to increase security at its schools. The cost in damages was intolerable and the children's safety was a key issue. With a new state-of-the-art security solution, including an advanced video analytics system from VideoIQ, Malmö was able to achieve significant cost savings while offering students and faculty a new level of proactive security protection.

The challenge

Aside from arson attacks providing a constant source of worry, one of the biggest problems in Malmö was vandals breaking windows and panes of glass. On one occasion in particular, 600 panes of glass were smashed at a school which cost 1.2 million SEK. Some students contributed to the archaic atmosphere at the schools by regularly pulling fire alarms, causing everyone in the school to immediately evacuate while the fire department surveyed the scene, only to determine there wasn't a threat. With each incident, feelings of anxiety and concern grew while time spent learning in the classroom was diminished.

With no security system or mechanism in place, the school had to find a way to protect the staff and students and identify the culprits. To meet that need, Malmö municipality contacted systems integrator TAC Säkerhet to discuss the purchase and installation of a state-of-the-art surveillance system. Mårcus Djerf, business area manager at TAC Säkerhet, said: "The city of Malmö believed that the amount of money being spent to repair property damage caused by arson and vandalism could be far better spent on things like new computers and technology for the students, or on field trips. They sought something that would help prevent crime while allowing them to save considerable money."

The solution

With no security system or mechanism in place, the school had to find a way to protect the staff and students and identify the culprits

The right solution for the schools came in the form of video surveillance cameras mounted at strategic, highly trafficked places across five schools. It was critical, however, that the solution didn't just consist of "dumb" cameras that passively record events while acts of crime go undetected. Said Djerf: "While recording events could help provide forensic evidence after an incident had taken place, Malmo wanted to be proactive and address potential security issues before they happened. We looked for an intelligent analytics system that would serve as the ‘front line' for the schools since they did not have any security guards on-site."

TAC recommended the use of VideoIQ's HD Intelligent Video Analytics Engine, which acts as a digital guard, providing instant alerts and security protection across nearly any environment or condition, including bad weather and at night. The technology is in use at hundreds of customer sites around the world and is recognized for its ability to transform passive video surveillance into a dynamic, real-time and proactive system for early warning and security protection.

Djerf said: "The VideoIQ HD system continuously watches for security threats across all of the cameras at all of the schools. Just one HD can simultaneously analyze eight video streams from eight different cameras. When an intruder comes onto the property, the system instantly captures a video clip and sends it to our remote guards and security personnel at the Malmö City Alarm Center who can then contact the police, fire department or other emergency responders."

"The combination of VideoIQ's next-generation analytics and remote guards is the ideal approach to minimize costs while maximizing security protection," said Scott Schnell, president and CEO of VideoIQ. "Our technology works accurately and reliably in any weather, is simple to install and has been in use for years at schools, chemical sites, water facilities, border crossings, and many other kinds of businesses that want to keep their most prized assets safe."

The VideoIQ HD system continuously watches for security threats across all of the cameras at all of the schools

TAC also chose the VideoIQ HD Analyzer for its self-learning capabilities which enable it to learn and get smarter with each incident detected. The analyzer watches and learns its environment, as well as patterns of motion, so that it can instantly distinguish between a person, automobile, cat, tree, or any other object. Additionally, the system responds to rules established by the user, enabling a high level of customization and specificity to minimize false alarms and increase accuracy.

"VideoIQ's self-learning technology is a huge asset because the system recognizes viable threats instantly and accurately, which reduces the number of false alarms generated. This enables security personnel to respond only when needed, saving the city of Malmö considerable time, energy and money," said Djerf.

The self-learning capabilities were not the only user-friendly feature that the VideoIQ HD Analyzer offered.  VideoIQ is the only video analytics technology without required calibration and TAC found the system to be extremely easy and fast to install, without any lengthy testing or set-up time required.  Said Djerf: "VideoIQ's plug-and-play approach saved us considerable effort, while ensuring very reliable protection."

Another reason TAC chose the VideoIQ HD Analyzer is because it can work with any type of stationary analog PTZ or other video camera - whether color, black and white, thermal or ones that use infrared illumination. The ability to support a heterogeneous camera environment was essential since the cameras used by the Malmö schools come from a variety of camera manufacturers and vendors.

The right solution for the schools came in the form of video surveillance cameras mounted at strategic, highly trafficked places across five schools

The result

After just one year of having the security system in place, the municipality of Malmö reduced costs by an astounding 90 percent and the city saved 3 million SEK on a reduction in smashed panes and broken glass alone. Djerf said: "Malmö's expenses were improved within a very short space of time. They now have more money which can be used to make other needed improvements at the schools. The security system is seen as an investment and one that will help reduce crime for years to come."

Additionally, the number of false alarms has been reduced dramatically and both school personnel and students feel safer. Several of the teachers have reported an improved school environment and that the children find it easier to concentrate on their studies. "TAC's goal is to offer our customers effective solutions that improve security while increasing profitability. VideoIQ's intelligent security products are an important part of this equation and we are proud to provide the city of Malmö with a reliable, effective and easy-to-manage security system," said Djerf.

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