Video surveillance plays an important role in schools and universities today. In fact, over 80% of public schools now use video surveillance systems as a component of campus safety.
While major catastrophes are often the driving force for adopting these systems for many schools, video surveillance can improve overall campus safety in countless ways. Here is an overview of today’s surveillance trends in schools, safety benefits, and best practices.
How Institutions Use Security Cameras and Video Surveillance Today
Security cameras play an important role in safety for schools and universities. In a 2016 survey, educational institutions communicated some of their biggest challenges and how video surveillance can help. The most common benefits of video surveillance include:
- Parking Lot Security: Cameras can help schools ensure the safety of vehicles and passengers, as well as respond to traffic issues or incidents.
- Visitor Management: Schools can maintain campus safety by monitoring visitor arrival and departure, as well as monitor “tailgating” and other prohibited types of entrances.
- Bullying and Other Student Incidents: These include violence, vandalism, and misbehavior such as drinking, smoking, or theft.
Not only can video surveillance help alleviate these challenges, but over half of schools and universities reported that reviewing surveillance footage was frequently used to provide evidence during investigations of on-campus incidents.
Components of an Effective Video Surveillance System
Video surveillance is much more than just cameras. Surveillance systems keep campuses safe with a comprehensive system of selecting and placing appropriate hardware, as well as collecting, managing, and storing data.
1. Strategic Camera Placement Improves Safety of Key Areas
Depending on the institution (i.e. a K-12 school vs. a university), the key areas for video surveillance will differ. Placing cameras in strategic areas not only improves real-time, ongoing safety monitoring but also improves the likelihood that video will be helpful during an investigation of an event or incident.
However, too many cameras on campus (or poorly-placed cameras) can create an environment that feels institutional or over-policed. This can detract from campus culture and lower the quality of students’ experience. Being thoughtful about camera placement can help a school ensure key areas are covered without invading privacy and becoming off-putting to students or faculty.
2. Adequate IT Resources Support Effective Data Collection and Management
The amount of data and footage that video surveillance produces demands sufficient IT support. Not only do IT departments need to manage and store footage and data, but they need to be responsive in identifying and producing requested footage very quickly.
IT also needs to maintain the video management software (VMS) and intake systems that can handle incoming streams from an institution’s entire fleet of surveillance devices, and respond immediately to any downtime.
3. Video Storage is as Important as Cameras and Surveillance Activities
Video surveillance doesn’t only support responses to real-time monitoring. Institutions will often need to go back and review footage from an incident discovered or reported after the fact. The most effective video storage tools will capture and code footage with sufficient metadata, maintain archives and backups of past footage, and accommodate any additional data from hardware variations such as infrared or low-light cameras.
Adequate space for storing HD footage is also a major consideration for schools and universities. Full-coverage for a medium-sized college campus can yield hundreds of terabytes of data every year that will need to be saved and stored to maintain an effective surveillance system and comply with archival and storage timeline regulations.
An effective video surveillance system doesn’t only improve the safety of an institution, but it improves its marketability. Campus safety is now a major component that students and parents look for in a school or university, and a school’s elements of safety can significantly affect its reputation.
Finding the Balance Between Security, Cost, and Legal Considerations
The costs of implementing and managing video surveillance systems can serve as obstacles for schools and universities – and finding the right balance of supporting privacy and upholding legal rules and regulations can also present a challenge. Security vendors are experts in this balance, as well as the hardware, VMS tools, and regulations surrounding video surveillance. These groups are important resources for schools and can provide solutions to meet their needs within their budgets.
Effective video surveillance starts with choosing the right service vendor. At CDS, we have provided technology solutions to businesses and government entities for over 40 years. To learn more about our public safety and video surveillance solutions, contact us today.