SJUK Exclusive: Securing the learning experience

May 27, 2022


Adding intelligence to surveillance helps protect students and staff, writes Gary Fletcher-Moore, Head of Sales – Intelligent Video Solutions, Konica Minolta Business Solutions UK Ltd.

Creating a safe and secure environment in which to teach and learn is the top priority for every education establishment. Therefore, schools, academies, colleges and universities are shifting from passive surveillance to a more proactive automated and fully integrated approach to how they operate and manage their video systems.

The passive surveillance solutions of the past were predominantly used for post-incident investigation as well as the presence of the cameras themselves acting as a deterrent. However, what education establishments are requiring today is the ability to continually monitor, assess and, if required, alert on the activities of people and the status of property 24/7. This is known as an intelligent video solution (IVS).

The true potential of an IVS is realised when combined with the latest high resolution or thermal cameras. In doing so, it is possible to create a surveillance system that effectively delivers all the benefits of having a full time security operator but without the limitations – such as a limited effective attention span and the cost overheads.

IVS in action

A great example of the difference a well-specified and integrated IVS can make is a project I was recently involved with at a school in Rayleigh, Essex. The Sweyne Park School prides itself on not only offering educational excellence but also in ensuring it provides a safe and productive work environment for its pupils and staff.

An essential element of this approach was the use of CCTV systems to monitor key parts of the school facilities and to enforce security, protecting the safety of pupils and staff.

Following a review of its systems, the school felt its incumbent surveillance solution needed modernisation to continue providing the required levels of safety and security, so asked for our advice on the best solution for its needs. Following an IVS demonstration, The Sweyne Park School was convinced this thoroughly modern and progressive alternative to the previous more rudimentary CCTV system would be the ideal enhancement to its daily security and safety regime.

Developed with real world security challenges in mind, these IVS solutions combine visual, thermal, sound and sensor data to accurately monitor and therefore better protect any environment. The cameras produce exceptionally high-quality images, even in low light. To ensure full visibility, the interior cameras are mounted flush to the ceiling, without moving parts, delivering full coverage with no blind spots.

Utilising cloud-based technology, the IVS cameras feature built in and highly secured and encrypted digital video recording (DVR) management technology. A MicroSD card is fitted into every camera as backup storage which continues to capture video recordings should the external network connection or recording fail for any reason. Upon reconnection, the camera re-syncs the recordings with the central cloud-based storage.

Highly cost-effective and simple to scale to any network size, an IVS makes it easy to add more cameras and any required additional storage. No dedicated servers, recording or software licences are needed, saving time and money both upon the purchase of the system and during its lifetime.

As a low maintenance solution, these IVS cameras are perfect for any location, having been built to withstand all weather conditions and temperatures, without requiring any additional housing or protection. Additionally, the IVS has the capability to use audio to broadcast messages, alerts and pre-recorded files to support the management of the school.

Transforming the surveillance function

The highly accurate and comprehensive 3600 vision capability of the solution has enabled The Sweyne Park School to reduce a number of analogue cameras (and the associated costs and resources required to operate them) down to just one camera, whilst also enhancing the quality to 4K resolution.

The school is using the solution to survey the corridors, dining rooms and vulnerable areas, helping to keep pupils, staff and visitors safe whilst delivering unrivalled levels of cybersecurity.

Unlike traditional CCTV systems that can only capture one moment or angle at a time, 3600 imaging technology means that every image/incident is recorded. The IVS system stores high quality imagery 24/7, delivering live, low-bandwidth imagery and playback on demand – thanks to the full 3600 recording, even events that aren’t shown live on screen to an operator can still be retrieved.

The solution also features inbuilt and constantly up-to-date end-to-end cyber protection against hacker attacks. This technology robustly protects the wider IT systems of the school, along with the paramount safety of pupils and staff.  

Dan Joslin, Network Manager at The Sweyne Park School commented: “It’s so easy to install that we can now fit and configure additional cameras within 20 minutes. The quality of the images returned are second to none, providing clarity that is above and beyond what our previous solution would provide. In addition to the 3600 viewing, the solution provides comfort that there won’t be any blackspots in viewing, providing 24/7 security for everyone within the school grounds.”

The solution will also form part of the implementation of a programme of pre-recorded lockdown security drills, with audio files providing guidance for pupils around fire safety, crowd management and general safety.

In addition, the intercom feature allows the operators to audibly alert those in the area and broadcast live messages. In the case of designated one-way corridors or entry and exit protocols, this feature will allow the operators to interact directly with staff or pupils in the vicinity of these areas to minimise any risks.

A broader view

One of the considerable benefits of using IVS is that the solution can be adapted or evolved to meet changing needs by simply updating its software. We have taken an apps-based approach to this, developing new applications that can be downloaded and integrated quickly and reliably without the need to necessarily change any of the hardware. 

For example, whilst facial recognition is well known for security, in an education sector context it can equally be used to confirm attendance within a classroom. Whilst students register their attendance, it is all too easy for them to abscond and not attend their lessons at all, but by using IVS and well-positioned cameras within a classroom or lecture hall, it is perfectly possible to compare those present with their filed photos to see who was actually there for each session.

IVS and thermal cameras have an obvious security application in monitoring people movement in low light levels, but during the pandemic they also helped to automatically detect possible signs of people with raised temperature as a potential sign of COVID-19 symptoms.

Another safety application is fire detection, with accurately calibrated cameras being able to detect abnormally high heat sources from as much as 5km away. High definition non-thermal cameras can also play an important role in finding potential fires with smoke detection (both indoors and outdoors) and are highly cost-effective.

Another pair of eyes

With complex people movements of students, staff and visitors, educational establishments are very well placed to benefit from IVS – an expert, unflinching and highly reliable ‘electronic pair of eyes’ that can detect details that even the most astute person could miss.

With its flexibility and ability to evolve, it is the perfect way to monitor any size or type of education facility at an affordable price-point. With the education sector continuing to tackle challenges in the post-pandemic landscape, these powerful intelligent systems will undoubtedly become crucial in the effective management of safety and security.

Whilst a human element is still needed to judge more complex issues, IVS is the perfect tool to assist with this and deliver considerable value in helping to tackle the challenges ahead.

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This article was originally published in the May edition of Security Journal UK. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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