School of Success: Safeguarding Our Future

School of Success: Safeguarding Our Future

South Carolina school sought security to provide students with knowledge and skills

Georgetown County School District (GCSD) is located on the South Carolina coast and serves approximately 9,500 students throughout its 10 elementary schools, four middle schools, four high schools, career center and adult education center. The mission of its 1,400 employees is to provide all students with the knowledge and skills that will prepare them for citizenship within a diverse society.

In 2016, GCSD found itself with a sparse, end-of-life camera system; replacements were not available for its legacy cameras, and with increased safety risks to staff and students, the district knew it was time to address gaps in coverage. To implement improvements throughout the school district -including a major security upgrade- a bond referendum was held. Within the community, 80 percent voted in favor of the renovation budget, making it one of the most successful bond referendums in South Carolina history. Upon its success, GCSD set its sights on a smart-security system with increased coverage to help mitigate misconduct while offering greater easeof- use for school administrators, security officers and law enforcement officials.

A System Evolution

To enhance security across its numerous campuses, GCSD deployed a complete video security and critical communications solution including Avigilon Control Center (ACC) video management software, Motorola Solutions XPR 3500e radios and over 1,000 Avigilon cameras.

The wide range of Avigilon cameras that GCSD selected offer numerous features to effectively meet the unique needs of each of its locations. The H4A Bullet camera is embedded with Avigilon self-learning video analytics designed to recognize the movements and characteristics of people and vehicles while ignoring any activity that is not relevant to a scene. These cameras were selected to help alert security officers of potentially critical events to help enable a proactive response.

The H4 Mini Dome and H4 Fisheye cameras were also chosen due to their exceptional low-light performance; they feature infrared and LightCatcher technologies to overcome challenging lighting conditions, day or night. Together, the selection of cameras that GCSD installed offer a tailored security solution for each of its school environments.

In addition to the capabilities of the new cameras, GCSD’s administrators and dedicated security officers have reported that they are extremely satisfied with the usability of the new system, which has allowed for a centralized, collaborative approach to security.

The Motorola Solutions XPR 3500e radios GCSD uses across its locations allow security operators to quickly contact each other if a suspicious activity is flagged by the Avigilon solution, enabling them to take immediate action to keep students and staff safe. Together, the two systems help school officials seamlessly improve operations from the time an emergency call is placed until after an incident is resolved.

The radio system is operated by the district and provides countywide coverage.

Exceeding Expectations

Since GCSD’s complete Avigilon and Motorola Solutions system was deployed, its advanced capabilities have benefited all of the departments that rely on it. School administrators have reported that ACC software is easy to use and it has given them a greater ability to collaborate with the district office in real-time when reviewing video of events, providing them with actionable information and the ability to make decisions together.

For the schools’ security officers, Avigilon self-learning video analytics have expedited searches by presenting them with the desired information in a timely fashion, rather than requiring them to hunt through the system for events. Additionally, the new Avigilon solution has allowed first responders to access a location’s video in near real-time before arriving, providing greater insight when responding to an event. When on site, Motorola Solutions radios keep them connected so that they are armed with the right information when responding to the incident.

Overall, the system has promoted better collaboration, helped improve efficiency and offered greater insight to those who use it.

Expanding its security and surveillance system has also helped mitigate misconduct amongst the students. Many students were aware of the gaps in the old system and would cause mischief in blind spots so that there was no video evidence of incidents that occurred, such as smoking, skipping class, vandalism or bullying.

Now that the system is much more robust, there are fewer behavioral incidents, and when they do occur, the ability to respond to them with clear video evidence has helped streamline disciplinary actions. School administrators can easily bookmark video clips, making it easy to refer back to when addressing an incident without storing the video.

School of Success

Before installing a complete Avigilon and Motorola Solutions system, GCSD found itself with an outdated system that had gaps in coverage and offered little reliability. Today, GCSD is satisfied knowing that its campuses are equipped with state-of- the-art security and critical communications technologies, helping to better protect its students, staff and resources.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2019 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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