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Canadian college upgrades to HD for multisite monitoring

Canadian college upgrades to HD for multisite monitoring

Conestoga College, a large and growing post-secondary institution that serves about 50,000 students and encompasses five main campuses and numerous satellite locations in Kitchener, Ontario, recently upgraded part of its outdated analog video surveillance system to an IP-based surveillance system consisting of 100 Axis Communications HD cameras and Exacq Technologies VMS to cover buildings, parking lots, grounds and outdoor areas. Axis' local partner Bulldog Fire and Security was the system integrator for the project. Bulldog Fire and Security designed a hybrid system, by digitizing existing analog cameras into custom-built hybrid Exacq servers, while new installations-such as at parking lots, new buildings and outdoor areas—employed IP cameras.

Keeping an eye on the campuses was a challenge for administrators, as the aged video surveillance infrastructure failed to keep up with the growing college. The college had relied on “old analog cameras dating back 15 to 20 years,” according to Don Willis, Director of Safety and Security Services, Conestoga. The quality of images was poor, and the university often did not have cameras in critical points. The university had acquired over the years a variety of DVRs that were stuck in the backrooms. One room had seven DVRs and was filled with cabling that obstructed passageway to the back of the room.

College campuses have vast areas to cover. Conestoga's Doon campus, for example, has more than 4,000 parking spots. “Getting coverage out there before was simply not possible, because it's too far for coaxial cable,” said Ron Landry, Co-owner of Bulldog Fire and Security. “But fiber doesn't have that distance limitation, and that allowed us to put high-resolution IP cameras out there.” Doon also has a large green space that “was always a safety concern,” said Willis. The college's previous service provider claimed cameras could not be installed due to the analog cabling and installation costs. However, with the campus's network infrastructure, two new IP cameras can be focused on the pathways.

The college's new video surveillance system uses all IP cameras and server-based storage for new installations and links older analog cameras to hybrid servers from Exacq. “For example, we replaced old DVRs at our Waterloo campus with a new Exacq hybrid server… At Cambridge, we have 67 IP cameras,” said Willis.

The new cameras at Cambridge include 20 outdoor HD cameras, 47 vandal-resistant network cameras. Elsewhere, Conestoga selected outdoor fixed domes for high quality outdoor surveillance and discreet HD fixed domes for coverage inside administrative buildings as well as classroom and dorm corridors. “With the old system, investigators sometimes sat for hours trying to find an incident on a DVR, and that same evidence can now be found in minutes,” said Willis. “If something serious happens, we're able to hand police the video when they come in minutes later.” The cameras have helped catch car thieves. A number of high-end pickup trucks and SUVs had been stolen from the Doon campus. The Axis cameras captured a suspect's vehicle on video, which allowed the local police to break up a huge car-theft ring.

The improvement can also be seen when the college conducts improved training exercises. In one, personnel scan live video feeds looking for a subject moving through campus wearing a reflective vest. “With the analog system, we could never train our staff this way,” said Willis. “At first, it took our staff almost 20 minutes to locate the suspicious person. Today we're well under five.” In addition, ROI has been immediate, and the system is now featured in orientation tours for prospective students and their parents.


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