Ole Miss Installs Simple Solution for Complex Problem
- By Monique Merhige
- February 01, 2022
The University of Mississippi, commonly referred to as Ole Miss, is a public research university in the town of Oxford, Miss. It is the state’s largest university by enrollment, and it is known as Mississippi’s flagship university. In the 2020–2021 academic year, the university served approximately 18,000 students representing all 82 Mississippi counties, all 50 states, and 86 countries, and its main campus in Oxford offers more than 90 majors spanning 15 academic colleges. The university, which opened its doors to its first 80 students in 1848, originally occupied approximately one square mile and has now grown to encompass over 2,500 acres in total.
Ole Miss is known for its walkability and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, making it a perfect choice for active students. The school’s Department of Transportation (DPT) meticulously regulates the vehicles permitted to park on campus and determines where vehicles can park. The University Police Department (UPD) consists of a group of creative, proactive problem-solvers committed to providing the best safety services possible. In fact, Ole Miss was ranked second among southeastern conference schools on the list for safest college campuses by the National Council of Home Safety and Security in 2018. While evaluating campus security, the UPD determined that they needed to bolster their ability to remotely monitor ingress and egress at the campus’s five main entrance points with a modern, smart security system.
The Power Challenge
One of the primary challenges facing the university campus was a lack of power at its entranceways during daylight hours, which affected its video security system. The lightpoles around the roads at the edge of campus were remotely controlled by photocell-governed power taps from nearby buildings. Photocells are electronic devices used to manage lighting by sensing ambient light levels and automatically turning on lights when darkness is detected. This created a problem during the day, however, as the photocells turned the lights off, which meant that there was no power available for the video security cameras to use. Given that the primary function of the video security cameras was to monitor the perimeter for prohibited vehicles during the day (when most of the campus traffic occurred), this was a significant issue. The university needed to find a solid power backup solution that could keep the cameras rolling around the clock. Two potential solutions came to mind, including extending or rewiring power to each location, which can be expensive; or a continuous power solution, which was much more cost-effective to deploy.
Avigilon and Solis Join Forces to Provide a Powerful Solution
The university did its due diligence to find the right solution and began by detailing its situation and requirements in a document, and then publishing that document to market vendors. The next step included asking the vendors to come up with their best solution and then present their bid to the university. After the bidding window closed, Ole Miss evaluated the bids submitted and determined that the best one was a combination of the Avigilon H4 License Plate Capture (LPC) camera and the H4 Multisensor camera powered by a Solis Energy Continuous Power Bridge (CPB). The solution was implemented at the university over the course of three years and has proven to be a tremendous success.
As a specialized, pre-wired, turnkey power solution, the CPB is designed specifically for installations where grid power is available but experiences predictable outages on occasion. In this case, the CPB provided an unexpected third solution that would keep the streetlight-mounted security cameras running during the daytime, which are not typically powered in the day. When power is available, the CPB uses an integrated charge controller to power the load and recharge the CPB’s battery bank. When power isn’t available, the CPB uses its batteries to provide power to the load until power is available again. The CPB has a very flexible design, able to accept 100–480VAC input voltages and able to provide any number of outputs via 12–48VDC terminals, 120/240VAC outlets, and/or Power over Ethernet (PoE). Solis Energy is known for working with its technology partners to make sure that each CPB provides the correct power in the correct format for each load device so that equipment installation is a simple plug-and-play solution.
The Avigilon H4 LPC camera is a specialized camera featuring Avigilon’s industry-leading License Plate Recognition (LPR) technology. A high-quality lens, optional IR illumination, and visible light filtering mean that the camera can reliably capture reflective plates even in poor lighting conditions. Analytics onboard the camera itself allow the H4 LPC to accurately extract characters from license plates on vehicles traveling at speeds of over 60 miles per hour, flag banned vehicles, and report information back to UPD.
The Avigilon H4 Multisensor camera line features multiple, independently configurable camera sensors with overlapping fields of view, allowing H4 Multisensor cameras to offer full 360-degree monitoring of an area. The H4 Multisensor’s three or four individually adjustable sensors capture images of a scene from multiple angles and can be laid out in Avigilon Control Center (ACC) video management software to provide a seamless panoramic view. With 9 to 32 MP total resolution, this versatile camera uses high-efficiency H.265 video compression technology to minimize bandwidth and storage requirements without compromising on image quality. It is also equipped with self-learning video analytics that can differentiate people and vehicles from regular motion (e.g., plants moving in the wind) and can alert operators to investigate further if an abnormal event is detected. As beneficial as the onboard analytics are, the integration into ACC™ software proved to be icing on the cake.
A Perfect Match
The security project at Ole Miss involved the installation of more than 2,000 Avigilon video security cameras, far too many to be manually monitored by the university’s small security team. ACC software was the solution to that challenge, as its easy-to-use, AI-enabled user interface helps security teams ensure that critical events do not go unnoticed; it allows operators to search for specific criteria (e.g., find any box truck that hasn’t moved in over four hours), alerts operators if a security threat is detected (e.g., the license plate of a banned vehicle is observed on campus) and transmits feeds remotely for off-site viewing. With ACC, the UPD was able to upgrade its video security system from an eye-in-the-sky approach to a proactive warning system.
Both Avigilon and Solis Energy have a long history of working together and have collaborated on a myriad of projects over the years. “I was extremely excited to discover this backup power solution for security cameras installed on light poles in potentially vulnerable areas,” said Kathy Tidwell, Director of Contractual Services & University Licensing at Ole Miss. “The Continuous Power Bridge offered by Solis is an ideal power provider for security cameras installed at schools or university campuses, office buildings, malls, hospital parking lots or other large sites, as it’s designed to keep power flowing to devices during intermittent and planned outages.”
In addition to schools, Solis Energy’s rugged and reliable products are a critical part of the security and surveillance infrastructures for parking facilities, airports, power plants, port and border security and many other vertical markets. “Power is often thought of as ubiquitous until you find out it’s not,” said Robert Reynolds, President of Solis Energy. “We enable successful projects by delivering reliable power solutions where they are needed.”
The Solis CPB helped bridge the gap between day and night by powering video security cameras in the daytime for the university, which helped improve safety and security for both staff and students on campus 24/7. Ole Miss made the right choice in selecting Solis Energy to power its way out of daytime safety incidents. The Continuous Power Bridge coupled with Avigilon security cameras has served as a powerful solution to help alert UPD and DPT of unauthorized vehicles pulling up to the campus, which has mitigated risks and created a safer environment for all.
This article originally appeared in the January / February 2022 issue of Campus Security Today.