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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.
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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.
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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.

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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
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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.

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

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