Centralized Platform Manages All Video
As a result of the project, two disparate video systems have been unified into one centralized platform for viewing and management, significantly reducing the time and complexity required to access separate systems to conduct investigations. This has also enabled the district to convert its analog cameras to digital in a more budget-friendly, phased approach as funding becomes available.
“The ability to use a single software platform across all of its schools and implement megapixel technology into their systems as it became affordable were big eye-openers for the school district,” says Rommel Roberts, chief technical officer for Redd Ash. “They’ve been able to leverage their existing analog cameras while progressively swapping out 12 to 15 cameras per year to take advantage of greater pixel depth and higher-quality video.”
Multiple People Can View Video Simultaneously
With the new Ocularis VMS in place, SROs can monitor video in real time more effectively; recorded video data can be reviewed by each school’s assistant principal along with others in charge of discipline.
“With our previous system, it was hard to access multiple sites or for more than one person to access a system at a time, but the new system allows us to do that,” says Alex Gilliard, systems administrator for Hardee County schools. “Now the assistant principal, the dean of discipline and the SROs can connect to the surveillance data simultaneously.”
The new system has definitely met the district’s ease-of-use requirement and has dramatically simplified the previously time-consuming task of investigation.
“The new software interface allows SROs to use the system with little-to-no interaction from tech support,” says Todd Markel, Hardee County School District’s IT coordinator. “With very little training, they’re able to go in, do their investigations, pick out the views they want, go back and forth through time, take a slice if they want and do what they need to do.”
Adam Williams, a systems manager for the school district, adds that, “The SROs are monitoring everything live, so if an older camera goes down, they’re going to notice it and they’ll usually let us know right away. But if for some reason they don’t, the system has the capability to alert us.”
System Helps Investigate, Prevent Incidents
Ocularis also provides alerts when specified events occur that can be customized each semester if the district determines there are problem “hot spots.” Combined with the much higher resolution provided by the new cameras, the new system has provided a powerful tool for investigating — and in some cases preventing — incidents at the two schools.
“It’s obvious that the number of incidents has decreased,” says Markel. “In addition, there have been times when vandalism has occurred at night, and the perpetrators have been apprehended because you can actually see and identify them. There have also been a lot of instances in the parking lot where people have damaged cars. For example, the resource officer has been able to easily go back and look at the video to sort things out and remediate the situation. In the past, there would be absolutely no way to prove one way or another what had happened.”
Moving forward, Redd Ash is working with the district’s IT department to provide SROs with the ability to view live and recorded video and receive alerts on their smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices over limited-bandwidth networks such as 3G/4G connections. Additionally, within the next three years, the district expects to begin bringing some of its elementary schools online as well, further expanding the scope of security in Hardee County.
Ken LaMarca is the vice president of sales and marketing for On-Net Surveillance Systems Inc. (OnSSI)
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