|The system, installed by local integrator Camtronics, features 16 Samsung video surveillance cameras
When All Saints Catholic School in Canton, Michigan first opened its doors in 1997, it was a model of then-current practices regarding school design and teaching. The administrative office was located in the centre of the school and teaching followed the “cells and bells” format. Fire drills and supervised playgrounds and hallways were standard school safety measures.
School safety becomes a priority
Over the years as school safety designs and practices have evolved, so too has the environment at All Saints, a pre-kindergarten through 8th grade elementary school. Exterior entrance/exit doors are locked during and after school hours; access control systems have been installed to help manage school security; badging systems identify school visitors, and so on. The central location of the administrative office, however, was not something that could be changed, eventually creating a challenge in keeping the school’s safety and security measures updated. Visitors had to be physically granted access and escorted through the halls to their destination. In the event of an incident or emergency situation, it took long minutes to alert the office and additional time to notify staff through the PA system.
The vulnerability of All Saints became even more evident following the tragedy at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School. To help find a solution that would remedy the situation, school administrators met with representatives from the local community, service providers and law enforcement. The outcome was a unique plan that involved all parties and applied security technology in an innovative way to make the school safer and more secure while maintaining a welcoming environment.
Unique deployment fosters quicker response
The system, installed by local integrator Camtronics, features 16 Samsung video surveillance cameras as well as a number of emergency pull stations and duress buttons, all of which are directly connected to the Canton police station. If an alarm is activated at the school, police can immediately view the scene from the Samsung video surveillance cameras. Based on the visual information, authorities can quickly determine a course of action including sounding audible alerts with different tones and patterns to indicate specific circumstances and associated responses. For example, a certain tone will indicate that police are on site while another tone may be the signal for occupants to go to a pre-arranged safe spot. The system also enables police to remotely unlock/lock school doors, further aiding school staff and the first responders in the event of a lockdown situation. Regardless of the type of incident, the immediate visual information provided by the cameras is critical in determining a course of action and providing a more immediate response.
Video from the cameras is recorded on site with a 16-channel Samsung NVR and is transmitted via a dedicated Verizon 4G connection to the police station for monitoring
According to Scott Hilden, a deputy chief at Canton Police, the department was on board with the plan from the beginning. “We absolutely said we’d be willing. Anything that will increase the safety of a school or children we are willing to participate in.”
The Samsung IP video surveillance cameras deployed at the school include a mix of pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) dome cameras, standard PTZ cameras and outdoor fixed cameras. Video from the cameras is recorded on site with a 16-channel Samsung NVR and is transmitted via a dedicated Verizon 4G connection to the police station for monitoring. Having as much information as possible ahead of time makes law enforcement and first responders better prepared when they arrive on site. The capability for on-site monitoring by school administrators helps to prevent acts of vandalism or theft from school property.
Solution has potential for widespread usage
Camtronics President Mark Wellman comments the system is reliable with minimal maintenance and support requirements. He also notes the cameras were easy to install and set up because of their PoE (Power over Ethernet) capability and browser-based set up. The features and flawless performance of the cameras allowed Camtronics to tailor the solution according to what the network could handle. “It’s a good investment based on good equipment,” he is quoted as saying.
Based on the success of the system at All Saints Catholic School, Wellman has received several inquiries from other schools looking to improve the security of their facilities. He says, “Schools always have to keep reviewing. There’s no finish line when it comes to keeping schools safe.”