Mixing the Old with the New for Robust Protection
A major metropolitan school district finds a way to capitalize on existing infrastructure while rolling out a new HD surveillance system.
Schools are increasingly turning to video surveillance as a way to promote safety and protect their students, faculty, and physical assets. Installing a new surveillance system, or upgrading an aging one, is a daunting task for any large school district. Doing it for one of the largest public school districts in the United States, with hundreds of thousands of students and tens of thousands of employees, is even more of a challenge.
Ensuring safety within the district extends far beyond taking care of students — there are more than 200 facilities within the district’s purview, including administrative facilities for food services, nursing, human resources, parking enforcement, and the district’s own police department. There are also financial considerations; school budgets are typically tight, especially when salaries, capital costs, benefits, books, and other supplies are considered. The organization needed an affordable surveillance system that still delivered the quality and high resolution necessary to have robust coverage of its facilities.
Requirement: A Mix of New and Upgraded Surveillance
As one might imagine, safety is always a top priority for a district tasked with protecting so many people and assets. The district is no stranger to surveillance — many of its schools already have surveillance systems, but they are dated and need to be replaced. Meanwhile, about one-fifth of the district’s facilities have no coverage at all. In the past, old cameras and DVRs were often left unattended, which made footage retrieval difficult because not all of the equipment was well maintained. Administrators addressed the issue by bringing in a new team to manage the surveillance overhaul and retrieve footage instantly as needed.
The team opened up the legacy DVRs and checked video cards, power supplies, and other equipment. They discovered that DVRs were very expensive to repair. In other cases, the coax would be spliced to a degree that made it unusable, requiring replacement. It was difficult to find a solution that didn’t require significant upgrades to the district’s infrastructure.
To help manage costs, the school district wanted to maximize use of its existing infrastructure. But district officials also wanted the ability to monitor activity in high definition, and its police department needed quick access to footage should an incident occur.
Solution: HD Video Using Existing Infrastructure
One of the challenges that comes with a legacy surveillance system is the format: legacy systems are typically analog, and come with the usual shortcomings such as degraded image quality, separate audio and video cables, and a lack of remote access to the surveillance footage. Until recently, the only solution for those looking to upgrade their systems was to “rip and replace” legacy surveillance with entirely new IP cameras and the associated equipment.
The district began addressing its needs by installing a TurboHD™ surveillance system from Hikvision at one of its high schools. If successful, similar surveillance systems would be rolled out across the district. The TurboHD line of products has a foundation in high-definition transport video interface (HD-TVI) technology, which retains the simplicity of analog systems while offering HD video output. Specifically, this technology supports latency-free 1080p HD over up to 1,500 feet (500 meters) of coaxial cable and offers seamless compatibility with traditional standard-definition cameras, HD-TVI–compatible cameras and DVRs, and Hikvision IP cameras.
Results: Flexible, Affordable Coverage
As the first complete installation, the high school was outfitted with several products from the TurboHD line. Administrators are not only able to watch footage in vivid high definition, but they can also monitor activity from their offices using a mobile device or web browser. The best part for the district, according to the telecommunications team, is that officials can enjoy HD resolution while safeguarding their investment in the existing cabling infrastructure.
“We love that we can use our existing infrastructure. That’s huge for us,” remarked a representative of the telecommunications department for the school district.
This high school is using the TurboHD 1080p PTZ outdoor IR camera (DS-2AE7230TI-A) to cover the parking areas. With an infrared range of 120 meters, this camera is highly suited for nighttime environments and picks up fine details even at a distance. Plus, the camera offers up-the-coax control — revolutionary technology in video surveillance that allows users to control the camera’s pan, tilt, and zoom functions through signals transmitted via coaxial cable. The flexibility afforded by a PTZ camera also makes it an appropriate choice to cover the school’s quad area, which was previously monitored using a fixed camera that provided limited coverage.
“The fixed camera only covered a limited amount of the quad area, but the PTZ gives us 100% coverage,” the district representative said, and that coverage is one of the reasons his team is quite pleased with the cameras.“We’re showing the cameras off as if we made them.”
The PTZ camera, along with the TurboHD 1080p outdoor vandal proof IR dome camera (DS-2CE56D5TAVPIR3), have found homes in the school’s parking structures as well as at entrances and exits. The TurboHD 1080p indoor vari-focal IR camera (DS-2CE56D1T-AVFIR) keeps track of interior areas such as stairwells, hallways, and lunch areas. The high school is using a variety of TurboHD DVRs and NVRs to complete the solution, led by the DS-7316HQHI-SH TurboHD DVR, which supports up to 16 channels of synchronous playback at 1080p resolution. District officials envision a similar configuration at other schools as the cameras are rolled out within the district.
“The cameras are cost-effective and better quality than what was being used before. No extra cost to the district — we can use that money on books,” the district representative said.
Overhauling the surveillance system for one of the largest school districts in the nation certainly comes with challenges, but the school district was able to find a solution that met its needs for quality and affordability. The cameras have proven to be cost-effective and better quality than what was being used before, and the first complete installation showcases a mix of standard-definition analog and HD analog equipment working in concert to protect staff and students alike. This system, based on exceptional hybrid technology available from Hikvision, also enables the district to safeguard other critical assets — and to do so remotely.
Video footage can be retrieved immediately, which allows security coordinators and the district’s police officers to quickly respond should an incident occur. As the district continues the rollout of surveillance systems for its schools and other properties, it can remain confident in the way it is protecting its people and assets.