Pass Christian Installs Surveillance Cameras in Rebuilt Schools

Mississippi's Pass Christian School District is using Axis Communications network cameras for security in its public schools. About 150 Axis network cameras will be deployed inside and outside of the four schools, the central office, and a new daycare center. These include fixed dome and fixed cameras, both in VGA and megapixel resolution. Almost 100 of these are being installed in the middle school and one of the elementary schools that share a campus to cover every classroom, hallways, common areas, the cafeteria, and outdoor areas.

In August 2005 Hurricane Katrina destroyed 85 percent of Pass Christian's homes and businesses and all but one of its four schools (which was heavily damaged). The district still faces formidable challenges. About two-thirds of its students qualify for free lunches; many students are still living in temporary housing; and some are still learning in damaged or temporary structures. Yet the district has earned the distinction of being in the top 1 percent of the 152 school districts in the state's standardized testing program.

"We have highly dedicated teachers and hard working, non-disruptive children as indicated by our state test performance, so implementing a network video system isn't about reducing a problem situation," said Teresa Burton, director of technology for Pass Christian School District. "We believe in being proactive and providing a deterrent to crime. For example, following Katrina, we were assisted by volunteers from across the country, who came to help rebuild homes and our schools. It became clear that we often had difficulty identifying individuals on our sites. With Axis network cameras, we will be able to see clearly who is on school grounds and immediately spot any problems that could emerge."

The district currently serves about 1,500 students, some 500 fewer than before Katrina's storm surge ravaged homes as well as its schools and central school office.

As part of reconstruction, the school district saw an opportunity to install a network video system and contracted with IP solutions provider CameraWatch Technologies. Beyond installing Axis network cameras, CameraWatch is also working with the district to implement Genetec's Omnicast network video surveillance security software and Synergis IP access control gear.

To provide extra security at the daycare center, Genetec's technology is being set up so that individuals using a card to access the building are also being filmed. If a cancelled card is used, then an alert with the photograph of the individual is sent to the district office. The setup also enables the district to identify unauthorized individuals entering with a valid card.

With the new Axis network video system, authorized individuals from any PC will be able to spot trouble areas. The network cameras also provide high resolution, so that using outdoor-mounted equipment authorities can read the license plates of vehicles entering and leaving the area. In addition, pan/tilt/zoom capabilities will enable administrators to quickly zero in on areas should problems arise.

Under consideration is also a plan to install cameras in classrooms, "to capture successful teachers in action so that others may learn from their teaching styles," the district suggested in a prepared statement.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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