School security solutions (which often include CCTV as part of their overall design) are becoming ever more important. Recent figures from the BBC obtained by a Freedom of Information request revealed that there were in excess of 30,000 alleged crimes linked to school premises in 2014, which represented an increase of almost 2,000 from the previous year. Burglary, robbery or theft was the most frequent offence, followed by violent crime, then arson and criminal damage.
Background – An overview of School Security Systems
Theft and damage has an effect beyond the initial financial loss to the school, with stolen computers potentially containing irreplaceable data, damaged work possibly affecting student coursework outcomes, and more importantly, a breach of school security by a theft or break-in is likely to have a negative effect on the teaching and learning environment for both pupils and staff.
And of course as the need for increasingly expensive technology within the education system grows, schools, colleges of further education and universities are having to invest in increasingly high value equipment, which is in turn becoming increasingly attractive to criminals, it’s a vicious circle.
IP CCTV (IP stands for ‘Internet Protocol‘ – effectively meaning ‘internet enabled’), when integrated into school security solutions, can play a significant role in reducing the potential of a school or college becoming a target for crime. Effective use of CCTV cameras in educational establishments can deter criminal activities by significantly increasing the likelihood of any intruder being identified and subsequently apprehended, as well as improving the response time of security personnel and/or the police once an incident has been confirmed.
The advantages of IP CCTV cameras as part of effective school security solutions
Increased clarity of IP CCTV images
A Home Office report written in 2007 (at which time most CCTV systems were still analogue based) suggested that around 80% of CCTV footage at that time was not of high enough quality to be admissible as evidence in a court.
But modern IP cameras are able record at much higher resolutions than standard analogue CCTV cameras. For example a 4 megapixel HD (High Definition) IP camera records at 3x the size and resolution of a regular analogue camera. This means that the footage:
- Contains more detail
- Can be magnified significantly without distortion, to allow identification of people’s faces and their actions
- Is a high enough standard for evidence in court (assuming it has captured the necessary images)
CCTV in schools to protect children
Improved coverage from IP CCTV cameras
The wider coverage enabled with an IP CCTV set up gives education establishments the chance to change their emphasis from simply monitoring single entry and exit points. Because there are fewer gaps in the overall coverage, monitoring can also focus on things like bullying, anti-social behaviour or students absenting themselves from lessons.
In addition, the increased resolution and a wider aspect allows each single IP CCTV camera to cover a significantly wider area of a school or college site. This in turn means that IP based CCTV school security solutions require fewer cameras to do the same job across a site. Ultimately, less cameras means less equipment to maintain, leading to financial/budget savings over the medium to long term. With educational budgets under such pressure, any savings tat can be made in school security running costs will be beneficial.
CCTV as part of school security solutions for monitoring larger areas with greater clarity
Flexibility and control through a networked connection
Educational establishments like schools, colleges and universities are continually changing and growing, with different areas of their sites changing use over time, or becoming more or less well used by students.
IP CCTV based school security solutions can adapt to changing needs and environments. Pre-configured cameras can simply be attached to the existing network as needed, either with physical cable, or more usually now, over a wireless network. Cameras can also be relocated (especially easy if the network is wireless) to ensure maximum effectiveness, coverage, and ultimately, return on investment.
Furthermore, the fact that IP CCTV systems are network based means that footage can be remotely viewed over any internet enabled device such as a smartphone, tablet or laptop. This means that educational site maintenance staff can have an instant overview of the school or college premises at any time (especially useful for those schools or colleges with a campus that spans multiple sites). Key staff such as head teachers and security personnel can have a similar overview, allowing them to react to incidences in real time, thereby enabling a more effective response.
The network basis of IP CCTV school security solutions also means that the systems can also be integrated with other systems such as intruder alarms, door entry, systems, access control systems and fire detection and alarm systems. This enables much more effective monitoring and response to any incidents that occur.
Keeping a school security solution secure is vital to its effectiveness. Because IP CCTV cameras are network based, they are in constant communication with other parts of the system. If this communication ceases, for example if a camera is being tampered with in order to disable it, or for some reason it simply stops working, the system is immediately able to flag this as an alert, allowing appropriate action to be taken by school or college staff. This further reduces the chance of an intruder accessing the site undetected, and increases the chance of anyone tampering with a CCTV camera of them being caught.
CCTV as part of school security solutions for monitoring difficult to see areas such as stairwells
Powerful video analytics for increased CCTV benefits
Footage captured by IP CCTV cameras can be processed and manipulated in increasingly powerful ways. For example, monitoring can to some extent be automated, with system rules being set to raise an alert when movement is detected within a specific area, or when movement is detected from one zone to another.
Powerful analytics can also help in terms of building management, with modern systems being able to
- Detect groups or individuals loitering in the same place for too long
- Track occurrences such as vehicles and people entering and leaving a site
- Highlight crowding and people flow problems around the buildings and grounds
Data such as this generated from school security solutions can assist school leadership teams or management groups to monitor and address a whole range of issues, which helps them ensure the most safe and effective environment possible for students, staff and visitors.
CCTV in schools for monitoring student movement to help with planning
To summarise, the primary advantages of using IP CCTV cameras as part of an effective school security solution are:
- Increased clarity – More useful images and footage for detection and prosecution
- Improved coverage – Each camera can cover a wider area, more effectively, therefore reducing the number of CCTV cameras needed
- Flexibility and control – Cameras can be added, removed or relocated relatively easily, to provide maximum value
- Self-monitoring protection – Cameras can raise an alert when they are being tampered with
- Powerful video analytics – Allows some elements of monitoring to be automated which reduces staff costs, and provides important data for decision making