Utah Montessori School Keeps Every Child Safe with Axis Cameras and Milestone Video Technology

By Brad Cary, Business Development Manager for Education, Milestone Systems

Milestone’s Open Platform Video Management System (VMS) is a stable, reliable choice, allowing school administrators and educators to focus on teaching without worrying about having to continually look after the software.

Dancing Moose Montessori School in Salt Lake City, Utah, uses video technology in several innovative ways. A video system built upon and managed by Milestone XProtect® Express open-platform VMS and a set of 40 network cameras from Axis Communications oversee daily operations at Dancing Moose. As an integrated part of the school’s access control system, the video system delivers robust, school-wide safety and security by providing high-quality visual monitoring of students, visitors, staff, and overall situational awareness.

The system also gives parents a unique window into their child’s daily experience. The school has dramatically increased parent participation in student learning with an on-site video viewing station, which has helped reduce parental anxiety and create an enhanced school experience. School administrators also use the video system to conduct classroom observations without disturbing the class.

“The Axis-Milestone solution has become a huge benefit for our school. Parents love the ability to drop off their children — who may be crying and suffering from separation anxiety — and check in after five minutes to see that their child is happy and engaged in the classroom. It’s really powerful.” Jennifer Duffield, Executive Director, The Dancing Moose Montessori School.

Challenge: Provide Safety, Security, Transparency

Dancing Moose Montessori School opened its doors with a promise to parents and students to provide an unmatched learning experience with unique, safe learning environments and transparent processes. Safety was a key consideration, but to stay true to its promise of transparency, the school needed a video security system that was robust and effective while also allowing parents and staff to monitor children without interrupting classes.

Solution: Integrated Video for Parents and Staff

Milestone XProtect® Express IP video management software (VMS), 40 Axis network cameras, and two 42-inch NEC wall-mounted displays comprise the monitoring system that allows parents and administrators to observe students and teachers without interfering. Indoor and outdoor cameras have been installed throughout the school, and the displays are available in the school lobby. And thanks to the flexibility of the Milestone open platform architecture, the video system is custom integrated with the school's LenelS2 OnGuard® access control system.

Result: Easy-to-Use Video Access

With the simple click of a mouse, parents have live access to their child’s classroom and can easily observe how their child interacts with teachers and classmates and feel more a part of their child’s learning. For administrators, monitoring classrooms remotely means that teacher evaluations are no longer a distraction. The integration of the video system with access control provides efficient management of safety matters for the school.

Delivering Peace of Mind

Dancing Moose Montessori School focuses on the total learning experience, providing engaging activities and specialized programs tailored to each class. A key feature of Dancing Moose is the bright and airy learning environment, including open spaces full of greenery, a large gym, and a specialized outdoor program.

Each school is newly built from the ground up, typically measuring 20,000 to 30,000 square feet, and hosting from 250 to 400 students depending on campus size. Larger schools can have up to 16 classrooms with two to three teachers assigned to each room.

Peace of mind for parents, students, teachers and the staff was a priority, and the state-of-the-art, integrated monitoring and security system goes a long way toward providing just that. The video security system, installed by Stone Security of Salt Lake City, is networked through Milestone XProtect Express VMS and includes a variety of Axis network cameras and an audio/visual access control system from LenelS2. The solution also includes a 4U BCD Video tower server powered by HP, Netgear 24-port POE switches, and a DMP intrusion system.

“Parents really value the ability to see their children learning, playing, and interacting with teachers and other students. The video allows parents to be a part of their child's day and helps assure them that all is well,” said Jennifer Duffield, Executive Director, Dancing Moose Montessori School. “The Milestone interface is very straightforward, so parents can just walk up to the monitoring station and easily access live video of their child's classroom — including control over camera angles. It’s become a very popular part of the school experience.”

From the school’s view station in the lobby, parents have permissions-based visual access to the preschool, with views of authorized classrooms and outdoor areas. The Milestone XProtect® Smart Client interface allows multiple parents to view different images on the monitors simultaneously — the system is configured to display up to six camera feeds on each screen.

Open Platform Integration

“The IP-based Milestone system paired with Axis network cameras is very secure, easy to use, and provides clear, high-resolution, detailed video that’s nice to look at. We recommend Axis cameras specifically because IP-based cameras offer a great deal of flexibility to choose frame rates, resolution and recording options on the fly,” explained Jonny Burton, Account Manager, Stone Security. “And because Milestone and Axis operate on an open platform, we can help our client grow the system to include future buildings or schools and add new technology integrations as needed. The Milestone VMS keeps up as Axis releases new cameras with updated features, eliminating the need for system replacement because it never becomes obsolete.”

The Milestone XProtect open platform VMS currently supports more than 10,000 different security devices from hundreds of leading manufacturers. Technology partners include providers of network video cameras, storage equipment, access control, alarm and detection systems, video analytics, emergency call boxes, and much more. The XProtect Express+ software has been designed for smaller, single-site companies with a light need for live video monitoring. Supporting up to 48 cameras and the ability to integrate with existing operations, XProtect Express+ is the perfect match for smaller retail, office, and education applications.

At the school's original location, which opened in 2007, Stone Security installed AXIS P/T/Z network cameras in the classrooms to offer view positioning functionality. When Dancing Moose opened a second location in 2014, Stone Security specified high-resolution, wide-angle, fixed dome, panoramic network cameras from AXIS to provide complete 360-degree views of each room. For external video monitoring after hours, the team installed a set of HDTV-quality AXIS fixed dome network cameras outside the building. The powerful Lightfinder technology within the cameras is ideal for low-light visibility. The exterior cameras are set to record on motion and can be viewed on the administrator's office computers.

When Dancing Moose opened their third location in 2022, the parent view station became a cornerstone to the lobby design with large, high-quality, 75-inch displays built flush into the wall with colorful slats setting off the design.

Every Child in View

“Twenty to thirty parents huddle around the displays during the first two weeks of school as the child and parent adjust to the new environment, the video system becomes a way to build community as returning parents comfort new parents as they say goodbye to their child; it also gives administration an avenue to connect with families to point out the beautiful details of the classroom environment and teaching approach,” explained Duffield. “We often see big smiles at the cameras as parents see the loving care of teachers and the unprompted interactions of their child. As the school year progresses, the monitoring stations average about ten users in the morning, one or two during lunch, and several at pick-up. We are proud to offer Milestone’s interface to families, and we’re thrilled with its positive effect on our education program.”

Duffield added that parents and school administrators are equally interested in educators’ teaching methods, whether the pupils are actively participating in the lesson and activities, thus verifying that students are playing safely and eating well.

“It’s nice to be able to pull classroom video up on the screen to keep track of lessons or to see if students are behaving well or getting out of hand,” continued Duffield. “What’s great is that the Milestone and Axis technologies allow us to observe classrooms without disturbing the lesson flow, and we see our students' true, unvarnished behavior during their normal interactions with teachers.”

For Burton, the Dancing Moose Montessori School installation is an outstanding example of the versatility of the Milestone open platform software.

“The flexibility of the Milestone VMS with Axis cameras allows our techs to be experts regardless of the client’s needs and application. We can choose the perfect solutions for our customers and integrate every important service needed for each installation. Dancing Moose Montessori School has access control technology integrated with the Milestone video for the ability to safely monitor students at all times — delivering peace of mind to parents and staff.”

Brad Cary is Business Development Manager for Education at Milestone Systems. With more than 30 years of experience in the security industry, Cary has expert knowledge and understanding of data-driven digital video solutions and how an open architecture VMS delivers the much-needed integration flexibility that users need in today's highly-connected environment. Over his career, Cary has worked with various security industry technology and service leaders, including DVTel, Johnson Controls, and NAVCO Security Systems. Cary joined Milestone Systems in 2010 and has served in management positions within the company’s regional and national sales organizations. With an Electronic Engineering (EET) degree from DeVry University, Cary is passionate about using today’s network video and sensor technologies to build safe and secure learning environments for K-12 schools, college facilities, and university campuses.

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