Campus Security and Police Integration

The Beaumont Unified School District Surveillance Network Solution

The Beaumont Unified School District (BUSD) is the fastest-growing school district in Southern California, currently serving 11,027 students attending seven elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools. As part of a student safety initiative, BUSD ramped up campus security through an elaborate system of security cameras, loud speakers, and sensors, all of which provide critical campus coverage and perimeter security. The security assets are monitored by both school personnel and the Beaumont Police Department through a shared Video Management System— the Leverage DETECT Video Surveillance System.

A network of cameras and sensors are placed strategically around a high school in Beaumont, California.

The complete surveillance network solution consists of over 100 fixed and PTZ cameras, thirty thermal-image sensors, PTZ-attached loudspeakers for audio intervention, multiple network video recorders, and VMS software and workstations at thirteen separate locations. Perhaps most importantly, the network utilizes a peer-to-peer architecture, where video is delivered with sub-second latency between all nodes—in other words, everything is monitored in real-time, allowing for split second decision making and rapid response times.

Now, none of this happened overnight. In fact, this impressive system is the work of careful planning and design evaluations that took place over several years. Also, prior to establishing the BUSD surveillance network solution, the Beaumont Police Department established a similar surveillance network for monitoring a number of high-traffic city locations, including a large community park. Because of their shared interest in the success of a quality surveillance program, and that both independently chose Leverage DETECT as their video surveillance solutions, BUSD and Beaumont PD established a Memorandum of Understanding between them, which granted Beaumont PD access to the BUSD campus’ live and recorded video.

Law Enforcement on Campus

One valuable achievement in designing a campus safety solution is seamless collaboration with local law enforcement agencies. Sharing system assets and feedback is the conduit that provides an increasingly informed response by public safety responders to both critical and non-critical events, and aids in post-event investigations. In addition, it provides an avenue to properly address nuisance behavior and criminal activity, which are tremendous benefits to campus safety personnel.

When properly planned and designed, a unified surveillance system can also expand a city’s public safety reach into adjacent campus areas without any additional expense to the city. This level of system unification increases the overall effectiveness of all stakeholders as it becomes a force-multiplier for both equipment and personnel resources. All this adds up to safer campuses and a safer community.

Campus Safety Technology Options

None of these objectives can be met without correct application of the right technology. The top objective in any unified campus surveillance solution is to implement tools that help users and first responders locate and respond to criminal and nuisance activity as quickly as possible.


Alerting dispatchers and campus officials to undesirable events is best achieved through camera analytics. The top camera manufacturers now offer a variety of alert and alarm options based on scene and image changes, and work well in stationary (typically indoor) environments where lighting conditions are more or less constant—entrances and hallways are perfect examples. Outdoor environments are more challenging to monitor due to constant lighting and scene changes, but there are options for those areas as well.

Straight out of sci-fi movies are thermal image sensors, which identify heat signatures over a large area and can alert system users about intrusions with a single sensor. When professionally tuned, these sensors increase system effectiveness by providing 24-hour surveillance, even in poor lighting. Often, thermal sensors are even more reliable than camera-only alarms due to their minimizing of false positive alerts. Independent alarm notification scheduling is another valuable feature that ensures the right personnel are notified of intrusions, at the right time.

A thermal image sensor tracks a delivery truck on campus after hours

The use of outbound audio—that is, using the loudspeakers mounted to a PTZ camera from a viewing workstation—has proven to be an incredibly effective way to address nuisance criminal behavior while it’s in progress. Once perpetrators are aware they’re being watched, the instances of undesirable behavior are quickly reduced, and many school districts report a reduction in fighting, graffiti, and vandalism.

Is Your District Ready to Make Surveillance Work for You?


What is ALPR

Automated License Plate Recognition (ALPR) systems are in use today to capture license plate data in all manner of situations: at traffic lights, in parking garages, at hotel gates – anywhere that traffic flow needs to be monitored and regulated. The process is, in theory, simple:

  • A sensor automatically captures an image of a vehicle’s license plate;
  • That image is read into into alphanumeric characters using optical character recognition or similar software;
  • The result is compared to one or more databases of vehicles of interest; and
  • An officer or other interested party is alerted when a vehicle of interest has been observed.

DETECT Automated License Plate Reporting System

The DETECT Automated License Plate Reporting System is a brand new, complete end-to-end license plate capture, notification, and management system consisting of hardware and software elements to provide proactive response and forensic information that can be linked with surveillance video footage. The system was built in response to a number of customer requests for a more affordable plate reading system that can serve as a stand-alone system, or integrate directly with DETECT VMS for more robust and powerful incident alert and monitoring that ties into new or existing surveillance video capabilities.

In order to best fill a number of requirements, the DETECT License Plate Capture Software (LPCS) is flexible enough to operate either embedded in a camera, residing on a server, or utilizing a hybrid method that takes advantage of both camera and computer hardware. The use-case and camera selection will inform the best method to implement:

  • Embedded approach: Executing the license plate capture function on the camera reduces the server processing load, and may reduce server cost. This approach is dependent upon the camera resources being robust enough to handle the conversion work load.
  • Server approach: Perhaps you already have an analog camera that is unable to execute code, therefore the capture data would be forwarded to a server, and all the process steps would be handled there.
  • Hybrid approach: There may be advantages to running some steps on the camera, and the balance on a server. Conditions that may dictate this type of operation include potential resource limitations of the camera or scene activity. Another advantage of the hybrid approach is saving potential license plate captures on the camera’s SD card, which minimizes the potential to lose license plate captures in the event of power or network outages.
The Hybrid approach is show above, with the camera managing the imagery while the processing takes place on a server.

DETECT Network Video Recording (NVR) software is used to manage, store, and provide ALPR and surveillance camera information. DETECT Authentication and Management is used to handle administration and management of system assets, end user capabilities, and user activities.

The DETECT ALPR interface includes tabs for sophisticated searches and list management capabilities, as well as a map interface that displays capture location and camera placement

Designed From The Ground Up

Our customers asked, and we listened. Over the past 18 months, our research and development team—in conjunction with multiple agencies—have developed a deeper understanding of the technologies involved in ALPR, and have developed new ways to achieve a high success rate of clean plate reads. Our new software includes a more effective OCR, recognizes and accounts for commonly misread characters, has sophisticated list building and sharing capabilities, and takes vehicle speed and environmental conditions into consideration.

There are many factors that impact the successful deployment of a municipal-wide ALPR strategy, and we have learned that it is definitely not a one size fits all proposition. As part of our research, DETECT currently has active ALPR cameras in different locations to define a variety of environmental and deployment conditions that our software team is continues use to optimize both the new software ALPR engine and backend database application.

There are currently three levels of DETECT ALPR in the testing and demonstration phase.

  • Resolve: Our lowest cost option, for use with a single camera.
  • Verity: A single user option that can be used with up to four low-traffic volume cameras
  • Affirm: A multiple user option that can be used with up to ten low-traffic volume cameras

One key benefit will be the ease of sharing both the ALPR data and corresponding surveillance video footage with Public Safety agencies, making this software an excellent choice for businesses or schools who need to keep track of who’s coming and going.

Contact DETECT for more information or a demonstration of the software.

High Vantage Point Cameras vs Drones

The extreme popularity of drones is due in no small part to the incredible aerial photography they’re capable of capturing. A lot of information can be gathered by a skilled drone pilot, and agencies are becoming more aware of the benefits that a new viewing angle can provide, both in surveillance and response scenarios. There are drawbacks, however, including the requirement for licensed pilot and possibly adverse weather conditions that prevent launches.

That said, there are options to obtaining that high-level view. Leverage DETECT recently completed a successful pilot project for the City of Corona for a strategically placed high optical zoom Pan-Tilt-Zoom camera. This camera provides sweeping views up to seven miles away.

The camera has a seven mile radius, and preset views in several locations for almost instant surveillance.

While a High Vantage Point PTZ camera cannot do everything a drone can, there are some distinct advantages that should be considered when you are making a decision about which to deploy. A stationary HVPPTZ:

  • Remains on station indefinitely and records 24/7
  • Can be directed to a response view immediately
  • Is operated continually at a lower cost
  • Does not require a licensed pilot or staff to operate
  • Operates in all weather conditions
  • Provides live, extremely high-resolution views
  • Program predetermined views of high surveillance areas

There are pros and cons to both drone surveillance and High Vantage Point cameras, and most agencies probably have a justification for both technologies. DETECT is currently proceeding with similar proof of concept exercises for other public safety agencies.

Related Article: The Benefits of High Vantage Point PTZ Cameras


How Maps and Cameras Work Together

What am I Looking At?

Institutional knowledge is difficult to document. You know something, and don’t think to write it down anywhere. So, what happens when the one person who installed the city cameras—the guy who knows what resources is where, and how it works—decides to retire? If you’re lucky, there is an organizational system in place to ensure a seamless transition, but more often than not, it’s a scramble for someone new to learn the system all over again. And if an agency has truly planned for growth and change, they’ve installed a DETECT VMS.


Map View

The most obvious—and in many ways, the most useful—feature of DETECT VMS is Map View. The software launches to a map interface, generally based on Google Maps, with an overlay of every asset in the system displayed graphically. A quick glance can show where cameras are positioned, and whether the cameras are working.


Icons are overlaid directly on a map interface. A green icon indicates that the camera is communicating with the system, while a red icon shows a camera that is offline for some reason.

When the system is completely configured, geometric overlays indicate camera coverage’s – the geographic area that a camera can reasonably expect to capture. Toggling that layer on gives a comprehensive view of the coverage of all the cameras in the system.



Quick-access camera controls

Directly from Map View, a user can select a camera icon to perform a number of tasks.







A single click can show the preset views associated with a particular PTZ camera, or highlight the coverage area of just that single camera. Another click will display the live camera video feed in a Display View window. These quick controls make responding to an incident report nearly instant, and gets eyes on the scene right away.


Detect Display View windows can show up to 12 video feeds at the same time.


There is even a map component that allows you to see which assets are placed inside buildings.

Keeping the System Healthy

The other part of institutional knowledge is knowing the history of the whole system, which cameras are tricky or problematic, and staying on top of maintenance and repair. Leverage DETECT provides a number of ways to check on the performance of your system:

  • Daily emails that show which cameras are online and which are down, so you can handle unexpected failures right away and share with others
  • A Camera Recording Tracker is built directly into the Admin menu, for instant recording status updates
  • Network Node View is a static documentation that displays every node and connection in the system on a map—including installation notes and photos—so you can pinpoint a point of failure and send a tech out with exact repair instructions.


Network nodes, connections, and speeds are all indicated in the Network Node View window.

And we’re working on even more system health tools that will roll out soon, with the goal of ensuring your system is up and recording with absolute transparency.


Knowing where your assets are, and whether they’re performing, is knowledge that should be available to anyone who needs it. The map component is a tool that puts the cameras into a spatial configuration that everyone understands, allowing for use, collaboration, and success with a minimum amount of training.


The Benefits of High Vantage Point PTZ Cameras

Every city has a high point – whether it’s a hilltop, a water tower, or a tall building, it’s the best place to install a camera because it offers a panoramic view of the area. And now camera technology has caught up to what defenders have known since the Middle Ages: control the high ground, and you’ll never be taken by surprise.


Here at DETECT, we’ve said it before: a camera is a force multiplier, and combined with DETECT VMS software allows a single set of eyes to cover a vast area, allowing responders to focus on what’s most critical. But a high vantage point camera is even more powerful—it provides an unprecedented level of oversight that agencies and communities are just beginning to understand and take advantage of.

Some of the use cases are obvious:

  • A high vantage point means potentially 360-degree coverage of a large area. One operator could potentially track a car chase and radio important information to officers in pursuit.
  • PTZ capability offers the ability to zoom in to specific incidents as they unfold: Perhaps an emergency at a school or a shopping center that would be monitored from afar.
  • Preset Camera Views means one click immediately puts eyes on areas of high interest. An operator can cycle through several important views in a very short time, affording a comprehensive understanding of the “state of the city” at any given time.

Some advantages are less obvious, or geographically dependent:

  • A large coverage view provides the ability to pinpoint smoke and fires almost immediately. Pinpointing a fire location is invaluable for quick coordination of air response and potential evacuation.
  • Preset Views can be set up for special events. Live track the route of an important visitor, monitor a parade or protest march, or take snapshots of a high-profile construction project.
  • Monitor and consider traffic flow patterns during city planning phases. Address an intersection that has a higher volume of accidents than normal, or use freeway patterns to determine the best time for maintenance.

The possibilities are limited only by imagination, and the needs of your city or agency.



See these benefits, and more. Take a couple of minutes to watch a short demonstration video of a High Vantage Point PTZ Camera, including smart presets and zoom capability. What do you wish you could see?

How Cameras Can Cover Your Community Assets

Video surveillance is not just about watching. It’s about seeing, providing awareness, looking ahead and solving problems—sometimes even before they occur. Public areas have always been targets for vandalism, and while often labeled as a “victim-less crime,” the costs of continually repairing and replacing city property add up quickly.

Protecting Public Property

Parks, public squares, shopping centers, and the like are public gathering places by design. Unfortunately, not everyone who gathers has wholesome intentions, and nuisance crime becomes an issue that takes more and more effort to curtail.


An effective, well-designed municipal surveillance system includes more than cameras. New, innovative uses of modern technology can provide:

  • Immediate audio intervention utilizing loudspeakers
  • Smart alarms that alert the right people at the right time
  • Infrared or other sensors that work in the dark, too
  • License plate reading and city-wide camera tracking that can follow a suspect while law enforcement responds


This type of surveillance serves as a force-multiplier, allowing monitoring personnel to effectively deal with problems as they happen, and freeing up officers or other responders for more critical situations. This foundation allows for better, faster response to nuisance crime and vandalism, and is proven to reduce overall costs associated with suppression and repair.

DIA_GraffDIA_Pub AddrDIA_Pub Saf

Recouping costs

Besides providing real-time video and response capability, Leverage DETECT also maintains a sophisticated incident library, archiving forensic recordings that can provide evidence for recovering damages or prosecuting offenders, as shown in the following videos:















When surveillance is unified and available at all times to public safety responders and other community stakeholders, the benefits are exponentially multiplied. Expand that system to include businesses and schools who participate in order to improve response time during critical incidents, and you have a true municipal-wide surveillance network.


This vision can be a reality, and it begins with leadership and a foundation based on a Peer-to-Peer IP Surveillance Architecture, patented by LEVERAGE Information Systems.


Handling Nuisance Crime with Surveillance

A good surveillance system is, at its core, about keeping communities safe: citizens, schools, officers, and buildings and public spaces. These are all important components of a healthy community environment, but it’s crucial to implement a model of proactive response — that means understanding the situation and reacting in the best and quickest way, the first time.

Tree Family

Protecting Your Community

Improving quality-of-life metrics is a standard and appropriate goal of any municipal initiative. Citizens want and deserve to feel confident about their safety, both inside their homes and out among their neighbors. Public perception of a city’s crime statistics and incident response can either bolster or erode the public’s confidence in their elected officials and safety professionals.


A municipal video surveillance system is often deployed initially in parks, schools, and public areas. There is usually strong support for such systems, and because they have proven to dramatically decrease nuisance crime and vandalism, it’s a great way to earn public trust in a new system.

DIA_Audio DIA_Curb











Once the success of the program is demonstrated to citizens, the system is easily scalable to include traffic monitoring, public building interiors, and even private companies, without adding significantly to the cost of operation and monitoring. DETECT is a force-multiplying technology that permits a small number of technicians to monitor a vast area, and allows officers to focus on what’s really important.

Monitoring School Grounds

Property crime is another major concern of many school districts.  An innovative and effective method to monitor and protect property includes sharing cameras from different surveillance systems. A local school district saved thousands of dollars with DETECT VMS as shown in the video below:


And aside from the property infractions, campus security is up against a unique set of challenges in today’s heightened threat environment. Our K-12 and higher education institutions have been facing increasingly more dangerous threats, and parents and communities are expecting or even demanding better security options to protect their children. These new challenges require intelligent solutions, and DETECT VSS has worked with school districts to solve face this modern reality.



In this age of budget cuts and economic crunches, investing in DETECT VSS is a smart move. Between unifying assets, consolidating video monitoring, and using off-site crime deterrent methods, a community can actually improve response rates without adding a single responder.

Leverage DETECT is a sound investment in a number of ways:

  • Increases the effectiveness of existing surveillance assets through city-wide unification and sharing.
  • Multiplies law enforcement assets and implements PDA intervention in non-critical situations
  • Maintains forensic recordings as evidence for prosecution and recovering damages.



Controlling Camera Chaos: Creating a Unified Surveillance Network

Cameras, cameras everywhere — but who’s watching? In many cases, sadly, it’s nobody. In a city with hundreds of cameras, they may be managed by dozens of separate agencies, all of whom are understaffed and underfunded, and therefore, the use of video surveillance is marginalized. Why not unite those assets into a powerful, cohesive network?

chaos 1

Smart cities are looking to integrate information technology to improve communication between citizens, agencies, and government. A quick audit of the surveillance systems in a given municipality often reveals an array of disparate assets: local departments, schools, libraries, transportation systems, hospitals, power plants, water supply, waste management and law enforcement are all likely to have engaged some form of video surveillance.


Undoubtedly, the performance of each of these entities is enhanced by the tools that video surveillance provides, but maintaining separate and uncoordinated surveillance systems is an ineffective use of an extremely powerful tool. For long-term success, those systems should be integrated. Cities that develop a unified surveillance system are better equipped to respond to challenges, while optimizing resource use and operating more efficiently.


The Benefits of Working Together

These unified systems are called Public Video Surveillance Systems (PVSS). PVSS networks are often very visible, and designed by public safety officials to enhance citizen safety and quality of life. At the same time, other city departments are building out IP networks to support the services they provide. Typically traffic engineering, schools, and city utility departments build IP surveillance systems in the shadows of Public Video Surveillance Systems, and while the systems are useful, they are generally woefully underused, poorly maintained, and more often than not, abandoned due to ineffective management.


It may seem a daunting task to merge these efforts—and in truth, it is not easy—nonetheless, Leverage has helped several cities to successfully deploy a Unified Video Surveillance system. As such, each separate department:

  • Shares the resources of the others,
  • Reduces operational expenses, and
  • Distributes maintenance and support costs.

Unified video surveillance reduces overall costs and resource consumption, while at the same time, creating the infrastructure for more reliable operation. Consolidation of resources includes the obvious surveillance cameras, but also extends to networking, power, and video retention costs. Further cost savings are realized by an overall reduction in maintenance and support—all while improving services for each individual department.

chaos 2


What Are the First Steps Toward Unification?

When the individual entities that make up a municipality choose to adopt mission-essential video surveillance, there is a great deal of planning to start. Some of the critical first steps include:

  • Identifying stakeholders—who is going to participate?
  • Cataloging existing assets—what do we already have?
  • Develop requirements—what do we want the new system to do?
  • Committing to a budget—what do our systems cost, and what can we afford?

Generally, the departments pool their budgets to fund a unified surveillance system. In this way, instead of requiring a single police department to find funding to purchase surveillance for the entire city, the budgets for every individual contributor are added in to cover the cost of an integrated system. In this way, they municipality gains more assets, yet streamlines management and maintenance.

Leverage can help with these steps. We have over a decade of experience designing surveillance systems for cities, agencies, and governments, and we’ve done our share of integrating existing systems, too. Our experience has taught us that there is no such thing as over planning—and a well-outlined system with defined metrics for success is easier to deploy, maintain, use, and justify.

LEARN MORE HERE: Choose a Technology Partner

Public Video Surveillance Systems provide a fundamental change that addresses the shortcomings of independently deployed video surveillance.  With the proper planning of network infrastructure, and management processes in place to ensure reliable operation, it is possible to provide “Mission Essential” video surveillance services to any or all municipal departments. Correct implementation will unify assets, reduce cost, optimize processes, and improve services.

Need a referral? Give us a call or visit our YouTube site for examples of DETECT in Action.

Chinese Cameras and the National Defense Authorization Act

In a recent move to protect federal agencies against vulnerabilities in their security networks, the U.S government and Congress has imposed a ban on Chinese-made surveillance cameras. An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is Defense Department’s annual budget and spending outline, specified that federal agencies cannot purchase cameras made by Chinese vendors Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co. and Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co.


Why the drastic measure? Covert back-door access was discovered by cyber-security firm ReFirm Labs—access that would allow unauthorized people to tap into the cameras, and send information to China. Hikvision is 42 percent owned by the Chinese government, and the potential of a foreign power having that kind of unauthorized access US federal agencies is, clearly, a security risk.  It should be said that no evidence of spying or wrongdoing has been publicized, but the potential is there, and it’s scary enough to prompt large-scale surveillance crackdowns throughout the government. (You can read more about that here.)



What does this mean for you?

Well, maybe nothing. If you aren’t working with surveillance systems that are impacted by the NDAA amendment, you certainly aren’t required to take any action. But—are you willing to take a chance that your hardware and surveillance is vulnerable to attack?


Hackers look for vulnerabilities to exploit, and almost certainly for malicious reasons. There are plenty of reasons why hackers might want to break into your security camera system, which makes ongoing and proactive cyber-security measures a must—regardless of what you’re using the system for.


What is Leverage’s view?

Hikvision is the world’s largest security camera provider, but they’re certainly not the only one.  In fact, in anticipation of greater restrictions going forward, some security vendors are already refusing to purchase equipment from Hikvision and Dahua.


Detect Engagement

At Leverage, the first part of our engagement is to conceptualize and design the best system to meet our client’s requirements. When it is our choice for camera selection, we recommend and use Hanwha. We can support other OEMs, and do so when requested by our clients, however we are development partners with Hanwha and have leveraged their capabilities within the DETECT solution for a powerful and seamless alliance of hardware and software.


Hanwha manufactures their hardware in South Korea and Vietnam, therefore do not put users at risk of purchasing federally banned devices. Hanwha’s cyber-security practices are well documented, and you can read more about them here.


What’s the bottom line? Know your requirements, know the restrictions, and find an experienced technology partner you can trust to help you with the process.

Does Cloud-Based Surveillance Make Sense?

IT professionals all over the world are looking for ways to cut costs—how can technology be leveraged in new and efficient ways?  For many applications, “the cloud” is the answer to reducing hardware requirements and maintenance hours, as well as adding flexibility and scalability to an existing system or embracing a new application. But does that apply to video surveillance?

Surveillance is comprised of unique components that may not always work well in a cloud environment, and municipal surveillance has higher stakes than, say, home security. Video files are large, and depending on the hardware that is being utilized, can run into terabyte-level files in a surprisingly short amount of time. Depending on the cloud storage requirements for multiple camera’s worth of video, fees for cloud access could very quickly eclipse the cost of maintaining an NVR onsite.

Privacy issues are also a consideration, specifically for municipal surveillance systems. There may be restrictions or laws in place that govern the storage of video footage. Digital security is out of your hands, once the video is uploaded to the cloud.

Uptime and Reliability

There is an additional concern, specifically for high-security areas, of what happens when the cloud is inaccessible. When Amazon (a major cloud-storage provider) goes down, it’s breaking news globally within minutes. With the traditional DETECT system, we have tools in place to keep a finger on the pulse of your system. Not only is the health status of your network available at any time, a large portion of our strategy is dedicated to mitigating downtime.

Link: Uptime and Reliability



When Should You Consider the Cloud?

You don’t need high-resolution video. The trade-off for uploading at anything remotely resembling real-time (it’s not) is frame rate and resolution. It might be a sacrifice worth making, depending on what you’re monitoring, but video quality will noticeably suffer, and there is a delay in response due to internet upload speeds.

You don’t mind recording every motion, every time. This works well in indoor static environments where motion is limited and the environment doesn’t change. Outside, everyday movement like birds, shadows, trees in the wind—currently, these factors can’t be masked out.

You’re looking for a new system. It’s unlikely you can upgrade an existing camera network to work with a cloud surveillance system. If you’re facing obsolescence, if moving to a cloud system means better adoption and use, or if ongoing maintenance is unsustainable, you might consider the switch.

Cloud or otherwise, video surveillance is a great investment. It can be used for a wide variety of tasks: recording events, identifying intrusions or other anomalies, providing real-time intelligence to first responders, monitoring infrastructure, and much more. The key to choosing the right system for your needs is planning. A highly functional, municipal-wide surveillance system must be built with a solid understanding of the goals and metrics of the project—how will you know if it’s effective? If the system is planned strategically, it will improve the effectiveness of every agency involved.

Getting Started with Municipal Surveillance