Surveillance Cameras: Keeping Watch
While some districts have been making use of surveillance cameras for years, today's camera technology is less expensive and easier to maintain and operate. These factors, combined with concerns about violence, vandalism, theft and other security issues, have led to a rise in the use of school surveillance. Early privacy concerns about the use of cameras in schools, while not having completely vanished, are beginning to recede, as the average American has begun to accept that surveillance cameras are in use in most public places, from the gas station to the grocery store to the highway.
The most substantial industry development of late has been that of digital IP (Internet protocol) cameras, as opposed to analog or digital CCTV (closed circuit television). Unlike traditional CCTV systems that can only be accessed on-site, IP cameras can be viewed over a local network or anywhere over the Internet via a Web browser, and some also have pan/tilt/zoom controls that can be operated remotely online. In addition, the storage of surveillance footage has evolved, from cumbersome on-site tape recorders years ago to DVRs (digital video recorders) more recently, and now some of the first completely off-site, cloud computing storage solutions are appearing, which are often referred to as “hosted video-as-a-service” (HVaaS). When used with the latest Internet-connected IP cameras, such services enable unlimited storage of surveillance footage accessible from anywhere online and don’t require users to have any server storage on-site that would require maintenance, physical security and upgrades. Here are just a few of the many options available to consider using in your district.
214 PTZ, $1,299
The 214 PTZ is a high-performance, IP remote pant/tilt/zoom color camera suitable for use indoors. Additional features include day or night functionality, up to 18X zoom capability, a high-resolution image of up to 704x576 pixels, built-in motion detection, and auto focus. Axis also has optional housings available that allow this model to be installed outdoors, or to provide additional protection from vandalism. www.axis.com
SUV-Cam Pro, Recorder $699, camera head starting at $335 ELMO’s SUV-Cam Pro is a small, handheld security camera weighing less than 10 ounces. Its small size and portability allow it to be installed or placed at a site when surveillance is needed temporarily. Powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, this model records up to 16 hours of 704X480 resolution footage on SDHC cards, and recorded footage can be viewed on a built-in LCD screen or on a PC by inserting the SDHC card or connecting the USB or AV ports. www.elmousa.com
SmartDome SCC-7478, $3,800
Samsung’s new SmartDome IP models are designed for quick and easy installation. These all-in-one pan/tilt/zoom cameras are already enclosed in housings, and the company claims the average user can install them and connect to a network in 10 minutes with just a screwdriver. Designed to withstand any kind of weather, the cameras also feature a 36X auto-focus optical lens and a 12X zoom, which combine to provide up to a 432X zoom. Privacy zones can also be set in the viewing area, which is particularly of use in urban settings to avoid capturing unnecessary periphery. www.gviss.com
EyeRemote, Pricing varies
NCL Security provides a remote IP video surveillance monitoring solution, enabling school administrators to log in and view the Internet-connected security cameras in their districts through a Web browser. The EyeRemote system is completely hosted, requiring no software installation, onsite storage of video footage, or maintenance. Users have the options of recording on demand, on a schedule, or when cameras are motion activated, grouping cameras by view, and controlling pan/tilt/zoom functions over the Web. www.nclsecurity.com