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Cameras Document Evidence In Columbine-Style Plan

An IP-based surveillance system at Long Island's Connetquot Central School District did the job in a case in which two teenagers had planned to create a Columbine High School-style massacre inside the local high school.

The teenagers were charged last July after two people gave a handwritten journal detailing the plans for the attack to school officials at Connetquot High School, in Bohemia, N.Y. Given the district's Dynaview Network Video Recorder (NVR) cameras, officials proved they reacted within minutes and identified the people who dropped off the journal, says Don Flynn, coordinator of security services. Summer school and camp activities were underway around the time, which meant up to 600 students and staff members were in the building, Flynn says.

"In the follow-up investigation, there were a lot of questions, such as how the journal came into our possession ... , and they [the cameras] proved a timeline, which helped us show that the district did not sit on the information," Flynn says. When the people brought the journal to the high school office, staff members brought it to the building principal, who notified Flynn's office, and they contacted police.

Better Quality and Scalability

The district started implementing the new network-based camera system in 2006 and has 45 cameras, which hold about 10 times the storage and offer greater picture quality than traditional DVRs, which the district had used. The cameras are "intelligent network devices" that use the school's wide area network and are centrally connected to the NVR in the high school, according to David Antar, president of IP Video Corp., which manufactures the cameras. The system provides unlimited scalability, which can easily allow for additional cameras. It can also tie into access control systems, such building entry; building management systems, such as water level controls in boiler rooms to protect property; and video analytics.

Similar IP-based surveillance systems also include On-Net Surveillance Systems, LenSec, and those from Axis Communications. StrandUSA, software integrator of digital Internet-based surveillance systems, can manage dozens of cameras and software deployment.

Principals at Connetquot can monitor cameras in their own building. Certain staff members can also view the buildings' cameras from home. The district monitors the cameras 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, providing real time information which can be immediately relayed to patrolling security officers. "We use the system proactively, not reactively," Flynn adds. The high-quality cameras have saved the district in some civil liability cases, such as claims of injuries on school property and fights, he says.

Connetquot school officials want to create a video area network where the Suffolk County police would be able to view school cameras. Different brands of equipment could be brought to a central place without needing software.