Each day, more than 4,000 students walk through the doors of the high school, middle school and seven elementary schools that make up the Lincoln Park Public Schools, located about 13 miles southwest of Detroit in Lincoln Park, Michigan.
As is the case with school districts across the country, Lincoln Park has made the safety and security of its students and staff a top priority, placing video surveillance at the top of its list of solutions for meeting this goal.
Until recently, only the high school had a video system installed, and while it was IP-based, the system was limited in the number of cameras that were deployed and its ability to deliver quality images.
“We were looking at grainy images that would more or less tell us that someone involved in an incident was wearing a red shirt, for example. Then we had to bring in several teachers to figure out exactly who it was,” says Ken Jacobs, Director of Technology for Lincoln Park Public Schools. “We just weren’t getting the image quality we needed.”
Using grants it received specifically for security, the district decided to install video surveillance at all nine of its schools. The added funding also made it possible for the district to deploy video intercoms to complement the surveillance solutions at each school.
“A large part of this decision was to give the community a sense of safety and security,” Jacobs says. “Our focus all along has been student safety – making sure no intruders could get into buildings, and protecting students.”
Given this focus, the district made their determination regarding where the new video systems would be deployed. “We really focused on hallway and entryway coverage. These systems weren’t for vandalism, so there are no outside cameras at this stage of the project. It was really about student safety within the buildings,” Jacobs says.
To design and install the high-quality video systems at its schools, the district selected Delta Network Services of Bloomfield Township, Michigan. Jacobs had a high level of comfort with Delta based on their excellent work with previous deployments of the district’s network switching and wireless LAN projects. Based on his own research and Delta’s recommendation, the district selected Samsung to provide the cameras for its new surveillance systems.
“After researching the options that exist, I felt the Samsung cameras offered everything we needed to meet our security goals,” Jacobs says. “Delta said they partnered with Samsung, so it was the perfect fit.”
The project design was handled by John Zawacki, a partner with Delta, and the firm’s network engineer, Dena Smola, who also oversaw the implementation phase. Smola says she took great pride in knowing that she was helping to make a difference in securing the district’s schools.
“We all see things on the news, and as a parent, I felt a lot of satisfaction knowing that what I was doing would make a real difference in the safety and security of these children,” Smola says.
For cameras, Delta deployed two Samsung models: SND-6083 Network Dome Cameras and SNV-6084 Network Vandal Resistant Dome Cameras. For district-wide video management, they selected and installed ExacqVision enterprise video management system (VMS) software. ExacqVision was selected based on a number of factors, including features, performance, ease of management and past success with the solution. The VMS software was installed in a virtual environment on a Delta-provided array of Dell hardware servers, which were also used for image storage.
ExacqVision Enterprise VMS software enables school employees to easily manage and monitor live and recorded video. The powerful features of ExacqVision Enterprise allow them to configure cameras, users and email notifications across the entire system from a single screen. Beyond the administration, ExacqVision improves the investigation search time with its timeline search, book marking and case management functionality.
“We evaluated and tested a number of solutions before selecting ExacqVision as our primary VMS offering for K-12 customers. We feel it’s a perfect fit for the K-12 environment,” Zawacki says. “Our customers love it - it’s a solid package, full featured, easy to use, and it makes a lot of sense.” Jacobs says the system has definitely delivered on the Lincoln Park School District’s original goal of student safety, and that the improved security at the nine schools has had benefits beyond the school walls.
“When someone comes to the door of one of our schools, they can’t just walk in; they have to be buzzed in, and the cameras are able to capture images of them,” Jacobs says. “The community as a whole knows that and I think it's given them a sense of security and peace of mind.” Beyond an increased sense of safety, Jacobs says cafeteria cameras at the high school have also delivered for the district. These were the only cameras that weren’t installed for safety purposes.
“In the past, a lot of things were being stolen from the lunch line,” Jacobs says. “Our food service department had some funds to pay to have cameras installed above the lunch line at the high school, and they’ve been an excellent deterrent to theft.”
Jacobs says the entire process – from design through implementation of the video system and beyond – has been extremely positive, thanks in large part to the school district’s partners on the project.
“Working with Delta, Samsung and Exacq, I was able to get the best of both worlds: we got the high-quality surveillance system we needed and the customer service that I like,” he says.