A Proactive Approach

New York school district puts surveillance to the test

Nestled in a valley with rural surroundings, the Onondaga Central School District is located in picturesque upstate New York, just seven miles outside of Syracuse. Despite its tranquil environment, the school district’s administration wanted to help ensure that students and staff would be safe at all times while on school property. To that end, the school district sought an intelligent video surveillance solution that would proactively protect its three schools and help prevent crime and vandalism.

Securing the Schools
In light of increasing violence at schools across the country, Onondaga Central School District decided to put a preventative security strategy in place to help protect its school property, 1,100 students and 180 faculty. The school’s administration knew there were many security products and systems available, each claiming to be the best in its own right, and wanted to be sure it selected the right approach.

In March 2009, at the same time Onondaga Central School District administration was determining what approach to take, the Department of Justice announced that its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services was making approximately $16 million available in grants to help improve school security through a program called “Secure Our Schools.” Superintendent Joseph Rotella learned of the program and successfully secured a grant to cover 50 percent of the total cost of implementing a security system across the school district’s three elementary schools.

When Rotella obtained the grant, it quickly put the school district on the right track. Officials decided to purchase security cameras for the schools. However, the next challenge was to find the best cameras to meet the school district’s needs -- administration wanted something that provided proactive protection, without a lot of overhead. They wanted to be alerted to potential security threats before they happened, yet didn’t want a complex system with multiple parts that require specialists to implement and maintain.

And, school officials wanted something that worked with the school district’s existing network infrastructure, but would not be a burden for its small IT staff.

A Smart Solution
After evaluating a number of video surveillance solutions, the district chose VideoIQ’s iCVR. It combines automated event detection, a built-in DVR and integrated video management into a single solution -- all driven by next-generation analytics.

The school district chose the iCVR because of its ease of implementation, but also because of its intelligent analytic capabilities that identify and pinpoint security threats. When the system detects a possible security issue, it automatically sends a video clip to designated administrators’ e-mail or cell phones, so the situation can be evaluated and addressed.

“The fact that Onondaga Central School District can proactively curtail any potential problems, before something serious happens, is invaluable,” a district official said.

Other evaluated features included the product’s built-in DVR. Unlike other video cameras that require the separate purchase of a DVR, the iCVR comes complete with one built in. Additionally, there is the ability to store all video at the edge and intelligently control storage resolution based on what it sees requires minimal bandwidth upgrades, saving time, energy and money. Up to two months worth of video can be stored.

Onondaga Central School District also was impressed by how easy the system is to use. Once the camera is installed, it automatically calibrates and gets smarter with each object it detects. Its ability to identify when someone is loitering or crosses onto school grounds is critical to ensuring the safety of the school district’s property and students. Object search is a great feature, enabling someone to search through recorded video and find a car or person in seconds, all with the click of a mouse.

There are currently 24 cameras installed across the three schools, and the school district is considering expansion. Most importantly, Onondaga Central School District now has the means to monitor for and record any incidents that occur on its property. The iCVR’s capability to search through recorded video and find a person of interest within seconds can speed investigations exponentially. Having a secure environment for students and staff is always the school district’s top priority, and the VideoIQ iCVR helps ensure this at all times.

About the Author

Robert Sauro is the director of technology for Onondaga Central School District.

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