Located in the historic town of Youngstown, NY, Lewiston-Porter Central School District is responsible for ensuring the safety of approximately 2,100 students and 375 full-time employees. Only 15 miles from Niagara Falls, the town itself is a 64-square mile community nestled along the Niagara River on the Canadian border. Referred to locally as “Lew-Port”, the K-12 public school district is comprised of six buildings; four school buildings on a campus setting, one former administration building and one community resource centre utilized for staff development and various athletic and community activities. The district promotes a diverse learning environment with a focus on the individual student and respect for all.
With the troubling rise of violence and other forms of criminal activity on school grounds nationwide, protecting students and faculty is a top concern for administrators. Within the first 21 weeks of 2018 alone, there were an unprecedented 23 school shootings across the U.S. involving an injury or fatality. The rise in gun violence has prompted community leaders to look more closely at their existing security technology in hopes of creating a safer environment for students and staff. The good news is that with recent advances in video surveillance technology, districts have even more options at their disposal to help accomplish their security goals. The challenge, however, is that for many districts’ security improvements must be made within a limited annual budget or as part of an overall investment in physical asset upgrades requiring a special bond election.
Fortunately, video surveillance systems represent a lower cost, scalable option to help schools ensure safety on school grounds. Many schools have adopted more advanced surveillance technology solutions as a deterrent toward crimes against individuals on campus as well as vandalism to school property. Although its schools had an existing analog video surveillance system in place, Lewiston-Porter leaders identified significant gaps in the technology that led to surveillance challenges. For example, analog cameras often returned grainy and blurry images in areas of high motion like hallways and cafeterias, which made identifying and responding to threats and acts of vandalism that much harder. It also took more analog cameras to cover the same amount of area as it took one IP camera, meaning the cost of purchasing and maintaining analog surveillance was actually costlier.
Another major issue for Lewiston-Porter was a lack of enforcing a proper visitor management system. Many schools continually struggle with proper access control for visitors, a problem that can lead to child abductions, property theft or damage, and even violence. This not only added to growing safety concerns expressed by parents but also mounting pressure for educators to increase building security.
To help ensure its schools remain a safe and secure learning environment for students, Lewiston-Porter decided to work with their existing security provider SmartEdge, a Buffalo NY, based Schneider Electric certified Eco Expert partner, to design a replacement solution for its aging analog surveillance system with 190 new Pelco cameras, which included the Sarix, Optera, and EVO IP camera lines. The new video surveillance cameras run on VideoXpert, Pelco’s video management solution that is designed to scale and fit nearly any surveillance operation, making it ideal for Lewiston-Porter’s needs. SmartEdge worked in conjunction with Pelco to layout and design a more robust video surveillance solution, with future expansion capabilities.
Unlike the previous analog system, the new IP cameras provide the schools with superior resolution and detailed images as well as the ability to cover more area. With SureVision 3.0, the Sarix cameras deliver the district the best possible image in difficult lighting conditions such as a combination of bright areas, shaded areas, and intense light. Designed with superior reliability, fault tolerance, and processing speed in mind, these rugged fixed IP cameras capture clear, high-quality footage throughout hallways and corridors.
The Optera cameras provide the district with a seamless panoramic viewing experience and intuitive immersive views that are unmatched by competitors. The district specifically uses the Optera for their parking lots where they monitor traffic flow during student pick-up and drop-off as well as offer footage to local police after car accidents. The Optera is especially helpful during the winter season when monitoring parking lots and sidewalks in need of ploughing or salting.
The EVO single-sensor fisheye cameras provide the schools with a dynamic, uninterrupted 360-degree field of view with no blind spots. This was a perfect solution for their outdoor stadium because of its rugged stainless-steel option. The stadium cameras are useful when replaying student athlete injuries and even understanding how injuries can be prevented or minimized in the future. In addition, the district discovered that the EVO could help them track campus construction projects. Facility leaders can check on contractors and progress of the projects remotely, resulting in increased productivity and accountability.
Not only were IP cameras chosen over analog because of quality and ease of installation, the 30-day storage capability was a must-have for Lewiston-Porter school district leaders.
“The storage capabilities of Pelco IP cameras were extremely important to us,” explained Paul Feathers Jr., Director of Facilities at Lewiston-Porter. “Incidents come up and we need to see what happened, days sometimes weeks later. There are times we need to look back over Christmas breaks and other holidays.”
Smart Compression Technology by Pelco lowers bandwidth and storage requirements by up to 70 percent while retaining image quality and critical information for the school district’s forensic purposes. For Lewiston-Porter, the system dynamically analyses motion occurring within the live video in real-time and intelligently compresses the information district officials don’t need, while retaining high image detail in the areas of the scene that matter most.
Pelco’s cameras were installed where students, staff, community members, and parents enter and exit buildings. At LewistonPorter, the staff can see exactly who wants to enter the building and grants access through a buzzer entrance system. Their new access control plan has delivered peace-of-mind to both parents and staff, both of whom now know that everyone entering the building is properly checked-in and screened.
Understanding cost restrictions and infrastructure challenges faced by educational institutions, Pelco & SmartEdge provided LewistonPorter with a solution that added value to their proactive safety program within the district’s budget. As a result, Pelco & SmartEdge were able to deliver a fully integrated security solution to Lewiston-Porter that helped the district take advantage of the industry’s broadest selection of IP cameras, powerful network-based video management systems and the flexibility to seamlessly integrate with third-party manufacturers to expand product capabilities. Performance and affordability helped Pelco stand out from its competitors, ultimately enabling the school system to operate more efficiently as it seeks to keep its schools a safe place for learning.
“The cameras have been a big help when researching problems,” Feathers said. “It’s added more to my job. But it also helped me do my job better.”