Page 18 - Campus Security & Life Safety, November/December 2018
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Six ways new VMS technologies can enhance security and operations at educational facilities
BKy Ken LaMarca
eeping K-12 schools safe is a challenging business. School administrators and security personnel face the task of weighing real and perceived threats, and finding effective and cost-efficient ways to address them while maintaining a non-threatening environment. In addi-
tion, new threats such as active shooters, terrorists, cyberattacks, and more add complexity to planning for school security and risk mitiga- tion within tight school budgets.
New Video Management System (VMS) solutions can meet K-12 schools’ security needs by providing higher levels of integration, ease of operation, and the ability to scale systems in accordance with future physical expansion and budget plans. They also can extend the use of VMS and surveillance beyond typical safety and security applications to address enterprise-level operations such as maintenance scheduling and event management.
Here are six ways that advanced VMS technology provides specific solutions for education facilities.
Schools often lack the resources to have someone monitor live video at all times. As a result, surveillance is often used primarily to document and investigate incidents after the fact. VMS can offer increased func- tionality, integration with other security and non-security systems, ease of use and cost-efficiency. For example, schools can use a VMS to combine surveillance, access control, and other Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) solutions into a single platform to provide an increased layer of security.
Mobile device apps have put physical security management and con- trol in the palm of our hands, offering real-time situational awareness from any location, increased productivity, and even incident preven- tion. Additionally, users can access multiple HD images in real-time from a mobile device or PC with a standard web interface. For exam- ple, while on rounds, security officers can use their smartphones or tablets to send or view live video to or from the VMS of potentially dangerous situations such as a flooded parking lot, a suspected perpe- trator, or a broken window for immediate or scheduled response.
Some VMS mobile apps also feature system alerts when a meaning- ful event occurs such as an object left behind, as well as the ability to control PTZ camera positioning at full frame rates. To preserve the quality of high-resolution video while reducing the bandwidth require- ments large video files place on networks, VMS is capable of compress- ing video to manageable sizes to deliver full-motion video from mul- tiple megapixel cameras to mobile users. This allows school security end users to monitor, manage, and control live or recorded HD video streams from virtually anywhere.
One of the keys to effective security is increased situational awareness. Advanced VMS solutions heighten situational awareness through soft- ware that enables event fusion. Combining unrelated events can dra- matically focus and streamline live surveillance activities and aid in forensic investigations. This is especially true in large schools with multiple sites and cameras. Situational awareness is also closely tied to
product performance. With multi-streaming camera support, the default stream can be set to low resolution while continuing to record high-resolution video. This allows school security directors to view more video streams while assuring that the highest quality video con- tinues to be recorded.
Advanced VMS solutions with mobile capabilities allow law enforcement and first responders to remotely view live video in the event of a school security emergency. This real-time situational aware- ness can increase both the speed and effectiveness of responders by allowing them to assess situations as they unfold.
Many VMS solutions offer licensing with virtually unlimited scalabil- ity in terms of users and cameras. This ensures the surveillance system that a security school director selects today will be capable of accom- modating future expansion without requiring the purchase and deployment of additional software. This is especially important in a school environment, where budgets are carefully monitored.
School surveillance doesn’t have to be expensive. Today’s IP-based solutions allow various systems, areas, and locations to be tied togeth- er for management of live and recorded video, eliminating the need for on-site staff to manage video at each location. Additionally, an open- platform VMS that provides school security directors with the free- dom to choose best-in-breed components that fit within their budgets. Interoperability and connectivity can make it possible for users to con- solidate and share information from video surveillance and other security systems that are not in the same building.
As surveillance cameras and VMS help administrators improve schools’ operations, including managing disciplinary problems or monitoring the flow of students between classes, physical security sys- tems can be amortized over other operations budgets. Video can also be an excellent resource for legal issues, especially in the event of inju- ry claims.
Investment in a VMS solution is a major decision for schools, and its ease of use is an important factor in both the product selection and in the success of its implementation and usage. Today’s VMS platforms are created with the user experience in mind, featuring intuitive oper- ation with maximum flexibility and functionality. Design features such as the ability to view and control the system from anywhere on the network with overlay controls and touch-screen operation simplifies the user’s experience.
With numerous new information and control capabilities for K-12 security, VMS solutions have evolved into a holistic control platform and management tool. Most importantly, they
now deliver levels of performance to actually help
school administrators and security personnel pre- vent problems from occurring rather than just documenting and responding to them.
Ken LaMarca is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at OnSSI.

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