Thursday, February 21, 2008

School District Installs End-to-End IP Video System

The IT department at Dallastown Area School District, near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania recently installed video surveillance technology in the area’s high school and middle school. Now, more than 70 IP cameras monitor the hallways and cafeterias, and the school district plans to add 50 more cameras to the facilities by the end of the 2007-2008 school year.

For recording video, the cameras stream signals across the district’s separate security IP network for storage on five RAID arrays, called a storage area network (SAN). Video recording management software divides the total capacity of the SAN into one Gigabyte blocks and allocates storage for video recording to each of the IP cameras as needed.

With cameras that stream to a SAN, the district avoids using PC-based network video recorders (NVRs) – equipment that would have required extra time and funds to support over the life of the system. The district’s streamlined system design along with the use of video recording management software made installation easier. For example, recording settings were programmed in less than a day compared to the five days that would be required for a similar-sized NVR-based system.

The district also benefits from Power over Ethernet technology, which enables them to use Ethernet cables to power the cameras. By eliminating power supplies for the cameras, the district's wiring closets are less cluttered and troubleshooting potential cabling issues will be easier.

The IT department also plans to install IP cameras around the exterior of the school buildings. Adding cameras will require additional
storage.

The district already has five rack-mounted disk array chassis to which they can add hard drives as more storage is required. Since the video recording management software makes the video surveillance system extremely flexible, the IT staff can simply click a button, and the software will recognize the added storage and make it available to all of the system’s cameras.

Further demonstrating the flexibility of the system, the IT department was easily able to increase the resolution of certain cameras in areas of the school with high activity after the initial installation and set up. These changes were made without stopping the system from recording.

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