School district’s bus security system serves as first line of defense for student safety and incident investigation

Video Deployment

School district’s bus security system serves as first line of defense for student safety and incident investigation

Canyons School District is located in the Southeast region of Salt Lake County, Utah. The school system serves approximately 33,900 students in 44 schools, including 29 elementary schools, eight middle schools, five high schools and several special program schools.

District Covers Many Miles

This large district covers 192 square miles, and relies on a well-coordinated bus system to transport 15,000 students daily on bus routes that cover close to 1.5 million miles a year. The district’s 200 Transportation Department employees maintain a fleet of 175 school buses that serve over 4,700 stops and 2,500 activity trips annually.

“Student safety is a top priority for us, and buses have more than their fair share of problems,” said Dean Glanville, director of technology support for Canyons School District. “Our video systems are a key piece of technology used to keep our students and drivers safe. Bullying, fights, inappropriate behavior, accidents and vandalism have all been documented with our camera systems. Video evidence is a critical piece of the puzzle that helps our principals and administrators know what happened.”

Upgrading to Open Platform Technology

After several years of dealing with an older, failing analog video system on its buses, the district needed to update the fleet. The district’s Transportation Department together with the IT Department spent two years researching technologies and best practices to find the right mobile video security system. The team ultimately specified a system that includes VMS from Milestone Systems, network cameras from Axis Communications and Sintron Technologies’ mobile server/recorder. Stone Security is the systems integration partner responsible for the implementation and maintenance of the solution.

Stone Security made sure the installation went according to Canyons School District standards: They worked around the district’s tight bus schedule, keeping the system flexible in dealing with special situations and emergencies. More than 85 of the district’s buses were installed with the new mobile video system during the summer of 2017 and the rest of the total 175 buses were upgraded in preparation for school to start at the end of 2018. In the future, when Canyons School District adds buses to its fleet, they will be outfitted with the same solution.

“Stone Security and the manufacturers have been awesome partners,” Glanville said. “We started this project after school ended in June, the same day we began to repave the bus yard. The logistics of getting old camera systems removed and new ones installed while at the same time having buses parked at many temporary locations was daunting. Stone Security handled it with grace and even finished a week ahead of schedule.”

An important component of the solution is that the system must use open platform IP-based, industry-standard components. Traditional analog solutions only use proprietary cables, cameras, DVRs, etc., but the school district wanted to make sure that it moved to an open standard, so that if problems arise, it would not be locked into any vendor, and a range of expansion options would be possible.

A Connected Solution

The Canyons School District solution includes on-board two, three or four AXIS M3037-PVE 360-degree cameras per bus depending on the size of the vehicle, and a Sintron mobile recording server that is fully-customizable, ruggedized and Windows OS-based. Administrators can manage the OS, group policies, updates, and software from a centralized location with Microsoft System Center Manager.

The server includes a built-in UPS to protect it from battery drops as the engine starts and stops, as well as loss of power in the case of a vehicle accident. It provides PoE to the cameras and has options for GPS, cellular, multiple storage locations, WiFi as well as the capability to read data from a CAN-BUS network.

“We use the open platform VMS for many of our school-based systems. By also using it in our buses, it makes it easier on our Principals and Administrators because they don’t have to learn multiple systems,” Glanville said.

The open platform video management software was selected because it allows the recording server to be located on the bus and manage itself, while an interconnect add-on enables the video to be transferred from the buses anytime the they are near a school or in the main bus yard over WiFi. Operators can retrieve video in a matter of hours following an incident rather than days.

“We developed a new way to deploy the VMS for transportation,” said Andy Schreyer of Stone Security. “We’re using XProtect Expert on the buses, with XProtect Corporate in the data center, and XProtect Interconnect as the connection between the systems. We were able to craft a flexible solution that didn’t exist previously.”

Schreyer explained that video is stored redundantly within the bus both on the server as well as within the cameras. If there’s an accident that takes down the server, video from the cameras can be retrieved.

This article originally appeared in the March April 2020 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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