Securing the District

San Leandro opts for digital technologies to secure district schools

California’s San Leandro Unified School District (SLUSD) knew it was time to update its CCTV system. Manuel Ruiz, the chief technology officer at SLUSD, said it was a mishmash of analog and digital technologies that “just wasn’t working well.”

School safety was the top priority for a new CCTV system, of course, as the SLUSD supports more than 9,000 students across 13 schools in the district. The district hired Advanced Systems Group (ASG), based in Emeryville, Calif., to design and install an updated IP-based CCTV system. The solution provided a reliable and secure bridge between video technology and IP, and delivers excellent results for the school.

Bandwidth was not an issue; SLUSD built out its network several years ago to support a massive expansion of services. That said, ASG was challenged to design a system that met very specific requirements to avoid ongoing costs to the district’s general fund.

  • New cameras needed to be designed for long lifespans
  • Neither new cameras nor new software platforms could require annual licensing
  • Any new technology needed to support a non-proprietary, “virtual friendly” infrastructure that worked with the district’s existing virtual environment

“ASG understood that and obviously came up with a great solution for us,” Ruiz said.

The new system includes more than 750 new CCTV cameras across the district, including a variety of 1080p indoor models and 4K outdoor models. Cameras are positioned to monitor hallways, building entrances, and exterior spaces, not classrooms. Rabinder Mangewala, senior director at SLUSD, said the cameras deliver exceptional coverage.

The extensive array of CCTV cameras has its own VLAN, with video traffic separated from other traffic on the network. ASG also selected an open architecture IP video camera platform, which allows SLUSD to create firewalls to restrict access to CCTV cameras and footage.

ASG partnered with Walker Telecomm in Wheatland, Calif., for camera installation, while the district hired a security consultant to collaborate during the design process. Mangewala and Ruiz praised ASG’s handson approach to the project, which included walking each site to help identify camera counts and optimal installation locations.

“A public school district is often short of resources,” Ruiz said. “We don’t have extra staff to manage these types of projects. Being able to find a vendor to provide us with that type of resource was helpful. Not only did ASG do that, but support was extremely personalized.”

The new $1.5 million system not only provides video support for all district schools, but it provides coverage of offices, a community center and other district facilities. It was funded by a bond that generated monies for safety and technology. Planning for the project began in October 2017, but new camera deployment did not begin until May 2018.

Administrators, who received training, are using the new CCTV system regularly. Mangewala said it can capture student disciplinary issues on video, so administrators do not have to spend as much time investigating what happened.

“Because the system is so good, investigation time is greatly reduced,” Mangewala said. “It can make a huge difference in investigations.”

“Our new CCTV system is another example of our commitment to student safety at San Leandro,” said Dr. Michael McLaughlin, district superintendent.

“Today, technology is a foundational component of any security plan. ASG and our other partners have made it much easier for our administrators to help maintain a safe environment at our schools.”

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of Campus Security Today.

About the Author

Dave Van Hoy is the president of Advanced Systems Group.


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