Required: real-time response
Required: real-time response

Jun 1, 2000 12:00 PM

Two school districts in southern California - Murrieta School District and Lake Ellsinore School District - have recently implemented video technology to reduce crime and violence on their campuses. Both are large districts with many sites spanning large geographical areas. The video systems were installed to solve current problems on campuses involve smoking, fighting, vandalism, fence climbing, drug use and theft. Both districts also sought contingency plans in the event of a major disaster.

The remote capabilities of the Axcess CCTV systems being implemented allow emergency services to view events in real time and immediately respond to crises on campus. With remote video capabilities, appropriate authorities can assess threats from outside the campuses.

Costar USA and Costar Japan Ltd. comprise the Costar Group, which manufactures high-performance video cameras and accessories. It also manufactures OEM-specific video components and is the recommending distributor of Axcess products for the two school district applications. According to Chuck Merken, president and CEO of Costar, the Axcess system offers a high frame-per-minute transmission using the smallest bandwidth possible. The software is easy to use for anyone familiar with Windows, he added.

Axcess Inc., headquartered in Carrollton, Texas, develops RFID and video compression technology. The company's video compression products are used in school systems as both prevention and evidentiary tools. The array of products in Axcess' Prism Video digital video product line includes cameras, transmitters and desktop software. The technology provides real-time visibility into facilities and operations using standard phone lines, LAN/WAN or the Internet. For simple remote video supervision, Prism Video transmitters allow dial-in from a PC anywhere in the world. In more complex, enterprise applications, existing video cameras in a facility are typically connected into a small Prism Video transmitter, which acts like a hub or server for digitizing the video and sending it over a phone line or over the network.

Alternatively, a Prism Video digital camera or LANcam can be used to transmit directly onto the network, including the Internet. Once on the network, the video is sent to the viewer's desktop, where a simple software program displays the live video, plays the live audio (or a two-way conversation is possible), and allows the viewer to control various things at the camera site. Video can be recorded on demand in the viewers PC, via an event triggered (or alarm) at the camera site, or recorded full time like an industrial VCR. With cameras on the network, live or recorded video has the full flexibility to be switched, recorded, and transmitted virtually anywhere in the world.

Ease-of-use and functionality - obvious factors when considering security technology for any application - are especially important for school security applications. Adnil Electronics Inc., which has provided services to many large school districts, was the installer for the Murrieta School District and Lake Ellsinore projects. Other equipment installed by Adnil to complete the systems included several Cyber Domes, fixed cameras, lenses, time-lapse recorders, multiplexers and monitors. According to Adnil, both school districts plan to expand their systems in the future.

In the first hour of operation, the School Resource Officer was able to see several individuals climb over a chain link fence and enter the campus illegally. Since the systems were installed, incidents of vandalism, smoking, fence-climbing, fighting and early departures of students and teachers have been recorded.

To the school's day-to-day security personnel, the best thing about cameras is the deterrence factor they introduce both to outsiders who do not belong on campus and to students and employees who do. In most cases, students are unlikely to step out of bounds if they believe they will be caught, which is often possible through the appropriate placement of cameras.

The cameras provide evidence on tape. Even if law enforcement is not involved in an incident, the recorded tape can be invaluable to school administrators. Video recordings are also beneficial for convincing doubting parents. Nearly all parents want to believe their children are innocent of wrongdoing and some parents even deny their child's guilt despite credible testimony to the contrary. However, as many school administrators and teachers have discovered, parents quickly accept their child's role in an incident when shown a videotape of the event.

An immediate solution to curbing crime and violence within schools may be in the hands of video technology. The peace of mind of both students and faculty at a school can often be enhanced quickly by the installation of video cameras as part of a closed circuit television (CCTV) system.

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