Two School Districts Upgrade Video Surveillance While Improving Wi-Fi

Lisa Yeaton Digital Content and Communications Marketing Specialist Published 5 Sep 2017

Theft, bullying, vandalism, cheating, and violence are all potential dangers faced by students, parents, and educators across the globe. So how can school administrators address and eliminate these issues?

Traditional methods have included rules for student behavior, training for teachers and personnel, and posting observers throughout the schools. Video surveillance is now emerging as the most effective method of enforcing rules across campuses. However, this remedy is costly and requires a budget increase of thousands of dollars per year.

With Extreme Networks 3916 AP, the new combination wireless access point with integrated surveillance camera, schools can address their security needs and upgrade their Wi-Fi network at the same time.The combination camera AP allows schools to consolidate two hardware units into one, eliminate an Ethernet connection, and reduce their financial burden. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with IT directors at Aldine Independent School District and Smackover-Norphlet School District about their camera AP purchases.

“I love the 3916 AP camera because it’s an innovative, forward-thinking product that allows me to add security and wireless access in one device,” Dominic Tong, Executive Director of Information Technology at Aldine Independent School District

With 84 schools and 11 new buildings under construction, the 72,000+ Aldine students and faculty required reliable, and secure network infrastructure and security measures. Dominic Tong recently installed the camera APs in some of the district’s 95 buildings, setting the foundation for the rest of the schools in the district. He says, “Financially, installing this device makes total sense. It cuts down on the number of ports I need to manage the network.” Prior to the installation, Dominic tested the 3916 AP and found that it was compatible and complementary to their existing Genetec surveillance system.

As a Texas school district, Aldine ISD must adhere to the new SB 507 law. This mandates schools to deploy cameras in special education classrooms if a parent or faculty member requests it. Moving forward with compliance, Dominic says “I’d prefer to install a camera AP over a security camera, because this reduces costs and decreases the maintenance needs of separate hardware units.”

Dominic has an excellent relationship with Extreme and trusts the products because of his experience with the total solution and support team at Extreme. The only possible downside Dominic sees to the camera AP is if there was ever a product failure, the surveillance solution could be compromised. The wireless coverage can be easily covered by altering the frequencies of nearby access points. Dominic doesn’t see this as a negative because he knows the support services offered by Extreme are unmatched in the industry.

“Extreme knows my concerns and plans so they can best help me overcome challenges and deploy the correct solutions. I greatly appreciate their care and respect. The support team fixes my issues right away over the phone or in-person, other companies like HP and Cisco don’t do that.”- Dominic Tong

Classroom theft had plagued the Smackover-Norphlet School District in Arkansas. Their recent deployment of 98 of the camera APs will be a major deterrent of future theft. Four of the Smackover-Norphlet schools installed cameras in every classroom. The district is excited to reduce the costs associated with theft, while simultaneously improving their Wi-Fi coverage by deploying an entire new wireless solution.

“The faculty and the district are excited about this upgrade. They are happy about the wireless updates, but also to see the access points with integrated cameras. It’s a really innovative product that allows the district to make two necessary upgrades at once and save financially!” Jana Reynolds, Director of Technology and Information Security, Smackover-Norphlet School District

The new solution will address the security and wireless needs for the district’s 1,300 students and 200 faculty members. The district would have installed video surveillance earlier, but the only approach available had been to deploy separate surveillance and wireless products at high cost. When Smackover-Norphlet came across the Extreme solution that solves the two challenges for the price of one, they jumped at the chance to evaluate it.

In regards to Wi-Fi, the network is constantly taxed by students and faculty from their multiple devices. Grades K through 8 have one-to-one iPad and Chromebook programs, and the high school is a BYOD zone. The wireless network is a vital resource to the district’s 21st century classrooms. Reynolds estimates that “90% of everything on the network is wireless.” The wireless dependency was one of the leading reasons why Reynolds knew a new solution was needed to provide more bandwidth and future-proof the network.

“Some people won’t want to be recorded and might be uncomfortable with video in the classroom, but at the end of the day this was a district decision and it will help to not only deter theft, but also end any classroom disputes in situations where it one’s word against another and deter activities like bullying and cheating in the classroom.” – Jana Reynolds

Security-wise, thieves that broke into classrooms and stole resources like sets of Chromebooks had not been caught in the past because the crimes occurred after hours and the district had only limited security cameras in hallways and outdoor areas, not the classrooms. With the camera AP in classrooms, the district will be able to capture video and voice of criminals, since the combination AP/cameras are also equipped with microphones. The devices are enhanced further by individual classroom motion sensors.

Both Dominic and Jana are presenters in our on-demand webinar, “The Impact of Video Cameras in Education.” Watch and you’ll learn:

  • Innovative uses of video to improve safety and learning
  • Best practices for installing video cameras on your Wi-Fi network
  • New approaches to combining video surveillance with Wi-Fi networking
  • Time and money-saving innovative techniques

Additional Resources:

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