News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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February 13, 2014

Clay Community Schools Corp. spending almost $500,000 to install districtwide, high-definition security camera system

BRAZIL — Soon, Clay Community Schools Corp. will have a districtwide video surveillance system in place that will enable a few school officials — and eventually law enforcement — to monitor nearly 300 cameras at 15 facilities, should security issues arise.

In November, the district awarded a $484,500 contract to Tech Electronics of Indiana to install the high-definition security cameras and software. So far, the company has completed installation at Clay City Elementary, Clay City Junior-Senior High School, Northview High School and North Clay Middle School.

The goal was to complete work by late-February, but because of bad weather, the goal is now the end of March, said Mike Howard, Clay Community schools director of extended services.

With school violence happening all too frequently across the nation, the changes are being made “to keep our students and staff as safe as possible,” he said.

When completed, the indoor and outdoor cameras will be installed throughout the district’s seven elementary schools, middle school, junior/senior high school, high school and five department buildings.

Howard said the new system enables him to access the cameras through his mobile devices and home computer. “I could be in Florida and see what is going on in a cafeteria, gym or hallway” in Clay schools, he said.

Eventually, local law enforcement will be given access to the live camera feeds so they can see what is going on before they arrive on scene, if a security matter should arise, Howard said. Dispatch personnel would have access, as would police through laptop computers in their patrol cars.

Dispatch would be able to monitor the situation and send officers to the appropriate entrance or location, Howard said. He anticipates police will have access by this summer.

Video could be used to investigate and resolve security or disciplinary matters.

The district has used its “rainy day” funds to purchase the surveillance system, something the school board approved, Howard said.

Asked about privacy issues, he said the cameras won’t go in classrooms, locker rooms or restrooms. The cameras will be placed in hallways, common spaces, outside and at interior entrances. Exterior cameras will provide a 360-degree view of buildings’ perimeters, Howard said.

Each principal will have access to surveillance cameras in his or her building only, not to other buildings. Access to the districtwide surveillance system will be limited to a few central office administrators and include Howard, technology director Bill Milner and Superintendent Kim Tucker. It will be used only if “there is an issue or a need,” Howard said.  

Video from 36 cameras can be shown on a single screen at one time, he noted. If there is movement in front of a camera, the camera is recording.

The system has a minimum storage capacity of 30 days of video and the server has 105 terabytes of capacity, which is “astronomical,” Howard said.

Jeff Watson, director of Tech Electronics of Indiana, said the new surveillance system “is unique for this district because it enables multiple users in physically different locations to view live and recorded images wirelessly from anywhere on the network.”

Jeff Birchler, a Tech Electronics account manager, said the new system puts “more eyes in more places” and can translate into quicker response times. “It just helps out in general for the entire flow of security,” he said.

The HD cameras being installed have better quality video that can help with identification of people, when needed, Birchler said.

Last summer, Tech Electronics added 21 entrances at Clay Community Schools to a card-access system, and it plans to add more doors in the near future. That will put the total doors controlled at over 50 across the district.

Tech Electronics partnered in the project with Avigilon, a company that designs and makes video surveillance software and equipment.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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