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How IP video can bring down surveillance costs for K-12 market

The benefits of IP video surveillance are fairly obvious for higher education institutions such as colleges and universities, since typically the security system resides over many buildings, often with a centralized control room.

December 8, 2010  By Steve Bocking

Previously, with analogue video, integrators had to pull all cables back to a centralized location, and often times, used expensive media converters to bring analogue from one building to the next. By taking advantage of the corporate network, many colleges and universities became early adopters of IP video technology, quickly realizing the cost savings on cabling. 

However, elementary and high schools were structured differently and could not always benefit from this cost saving. Usually, K-12 schools have smaller facilities which often consist of a single building. So historically, an integrator with a project in a small elementary school with four to 16 cameras would often propose a DVR solution.

Buying power and budgets also function differently in K-12 schools. Personally, what I have seen in the field is that one school had some budget left, so the principal decided to buy DVR brand A from integrator Y. Meanwhile down the road, another school bought DVR brand B from integrator X, etc. The following school year, the principals switched schools and the first call made was to the school board’s head office, asking for instructions on how to use their surveillance system. The school board’s IT staff was then burdened with servicing multiple brands of DVRs, none of which were compatible with each other. This story is more common then you may think, and many school boards are in the process of trying to rectify the situation. 

Here is where IP technology can come to the rescue. Several years ago, provincial funding was granted to schools across Canada to outfit their facilities with fiber optic networks. The networks were to be set up across an entire school board and their head office. The result today is that K-12 school boards often have better IP connectivity with each school than many large corporations’ headquarters have with their field offices.


So, if a school board decided to take advantage of the funding and opted for a more global approach to their different schools’ needs, they can now use this network infrastructure to save money with their security system. For example, if there is a small number of cameras per school, instead of installing a different DVR at each school, IP cameras can be added to the network and an IP video management system could be installed. This would allow video to be streamed back to the head office for central recording in their secure IT room. Although it is generally recommended to record locally when there is a high camera count, I am aware of a high school with over 150 IP cameras being recorded remotely at their head office 20 kms away, and on the other side of a harbor! Another advantage of using an IP-based video system is remote administration. Many school boards are now starting to merge Microsoft’s Active Directory to their video management platform to control the security system’s user settings and privileges. Implementing a video management system with Active Directory integration allows administrators to set who can view cameras or automatically remove personnel rights if they leave the school.

So integrators that focus on K-12 education projects from a more global perspective can help these schools achieve centralized administration, while simultaneously bringing down cost of ownership of a CCTV system.

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