To address the disconnect between its state-of-the-art facilities being monitored with an outdated security system, Chippewa Valley School District called for a complete renovation of its analogue video surveillance. They chose Milestone XProtect Corporate video management software (VMS) for an open platform IP network solution with high-definition (HD) Axis cameras that cover all 22 campuses across the Michigan district.
In 2004, an attack on Chippewa Valley high schools was foiled. A student threatened to terrorize the school in a way similar to the publicized events of other US schools. For the district administration this was an eye-opening situation and the catalyst to upgrade security measures for the continued safety of students, teachers, staff and property.
With more than 16,000 students on 22 campuses for nursery school through until the 12th form, Chippewa Valley Schools of Michigan is responsible for many safety matters. With a previously diverse array of analogue camera systems, each sending video to multiple DVRs around the district, there was little efficiency for monitoring the pupils, teachers and staff. It was also difficult to obtain video evidence: going back into recordings was more of a frustration than a help.
Chippewa schools otherwise boast state-of-the-art technology and planned to ensure that the taxpayers receive optimal value for concerns about loss, vandalism or property damage. Stepping up to IP video surveillance was the best option to keep the schools’ costs low.
IT consultants Metro Technology Services designed a comprehensive surveillance solution based on Milestone XProtect Corporate VMS that is centrally managed by the school administration. Installed and fully integrated by Peripheral Vision (PV), more than 1,400 HD Axis network video cameras are connected via Milestone Federated Architecture to cover Chippewa Valley's internal and external properties in its 22 locations.
“Throughout the entire design process, we performed intricate walk-through sessions with each school’s principal to ensure we would cover all possible blind spots,” stated Tom Giachino, President of Metro Technology Services. “From an end-user perspective, the Milestone system was easy to use and fit our needs perfectly to help secure the district.”
“Before Milestone XProtect, it was nearly impossible to effectively manage the out-of-date analogue camera system over Chippewa Valley’s entire school district. Now, rather than relying on hundreds of DVRs and low-resolution cameras, district administrators can easily and quickly monitor the schools via XProtect Smart Client to keep the students, staff and property safe,” says Hugh Sonk, President & CEO at Peripheral Vision, the installing Milestone partner.
“The majority of the issues we saw when reviewing video software choices were related to proprietary equipment. Milestone’s open platform technology, however, saves us from a complete system overhaul if we decide to change any of the more than 1,400 cameras we have invested in for the district,” explains Craig McBain, Director of Technology at Chippewa Valley Schools.
The school district now efficiently monitors all campus buildings and perimeters from one central location. Department heads around the district also have specific access to monitor where they are responsible. Since installing the Milestone solution and high-resolution Axis cameras, the school has seen a dramatic decrease in security-related instances and is far more effective when it comes to dealing with the incidents that do occur.
The complete installation was delivered in two phases, starting with installing the cameras in five high schools around the district. Phase II connected the middle and elementary schools through Milestone Federated Architecture. These were completed after hours, overnight and on weekends during the regular school year. PV was able to set up each building’s XProtect system individually and connect them as each station was finalized.
“The buildings are large and it’s definitely a challenge to manage the security, keeping an eye on property and students in multiple areas,” states Sonk. “The Milestone system even allows administrators to virtually walk the halls by monitoring the system from their mobile devices, in addition to their desktops. It has an easy-to-use interface and is a real improvement for the district.”
Users in each department were trained. Due to the intuitive design, they quickly developed the skills to operate cameras through the XProtect interface. “There is a fast turnaround time for training – no more than 45 minutes per session,” states McBain. “We actually took advantage of those to determine camera realignments for trouble spots not seen during the initial install.”
While the administration and security guards have instant access to the entire system running Milestone XProtect on their laptops and smartphones, the transportation manager can see if buses are on time, the food service manager can review an incident in the cafeteria or monitor lines, and maintenance managers can watch for vandals or keep track of safety with internal school issues such as flooding from a broken pipe, road and parking lot conditions or traffic.
The benefits gained from the Milestone implementation were immediately seen by the Chippewa School District. The reliability and efficiency of exporting the video, the ability to document an event - not only from the scene itself but all of the pieces leading up to and following the incident - continue to result in improved security, reducing the number of instances across the district.