Garden Grove Unified School District reduces vandalism and enhances safety with Cisco network support for IP video.
A school environment that is safe for students, staff, and property is vital for learning. For schools that have a large campus, increasing safety and security in all areas and at all times can be difficult. The Garden Grove Unified School District (USD) in California has found one way to improve campus safety. In a pilot project at Santiago High School, the district installed an IP-based video surveillance system that operates over the school's network, which is based on Cisco Systems
"We chose Santiago as the pilot site because we felt this solution would make the greatest impact there in terms of reducing graffiti tagging and other incidents, as well as improving safety," says Rick Nakano, director of business services for the district.
"We were experiencing the kinds of problems that are fairly typical in a high school, like a lot of graffiti on weekends and in the summer, some vandalism and theft, especially in portable classrooms that are easier to break into, and some fights," explains Ben Wolf, principal at Santiago High School. "We struggle with finding solutions just like any school does. So, when the district approached me with the idea of having a camera system, we were all for it." The cameras were placed in areas where they would not disrupt classroom instruction or other school activities.
Cisco support for video over IP allows multiple security cameras to be placed across the Santiago campus, then monitored centrally via the IP network with high-quality images and secure access. "We looked at other video systems that were not IP-based, but the cost would have been a lot more because we could not utilize what we had already implemented in the schools," says Ricardo Rodriguez, director of information systems for Garden Grove USD. The district was able to add the video systems to the Santiago network without installing special network equipment or cabling.
A high-capacity fiber backbone and Cisco Catalyst
® 3550-24 PWR switches connect the 16 video cameras to a server that stores video files for future reference. The network and server allow password-protected access to real-time and stored video streams from a PC.
Using the video surveillance system, school administrators and the campus security officer can view the entire campus through multiple camera feeds that appear in adjacent windows on the PC monitor. The staff can closely monitor specific areas or activities by controlling zoom and panning features of the cameras in real-time. "The clarity of the cameras is extremely reliable and the quality of the picture is very defined," notes Rodriguez. Officials have the option of accessing the video system wirelessly through the school's Cisco Aironet
® 350 Series access points.
Using Cisco Power over Ethernet (PoE), the school's Cisco Catalyst 3550-24 PWR switch provides electrical power directly to each camera over the network cable. PoE support makes it easy to place cameras in locations where electrical power may not be available. Cisco quality of service (QoS) prioritizes, segments, and secures the video traffic over the school network, which in turn is protected from external access by a Cisco PIX
® 500 Series Security Appliance. "If we wanted, we could even send video files over our wide-area network, which is based on Cisco products as well, back to our district office," says Rodriguez.
The district received assistance for planning and implementation of the cameras and video systems from Cisco Systems and from Network Infrastructure Corporation, a Cisco Gold-Certified Channel Partner.
"We know that if we can give students a safer environment, it will help those students learn and increase their achievement."
- Rick Nakano, Director of Business Services, Garden Grove Unified School District
"Since Santiago had a Cisco infrastructure that can support IP video, it was very easy to implement and it can be managed easily by administrators and district office IT staff. That was part of the value of using a Cisco end-to-end solution," notes Rodriguez.
For Santiago High School, a reduction in costly security incidents and enhanced safety have been the primary benefits of the video surveillance system. Rodriguez notes, "One of the biggest value points has been that having cameras on the campus creates a significant deterrent factor."
"Graffiti on the exterior of the school buildings has almost gone down to zero, saving us a considerable amount of money because we were repainting almost on a weekly basis before the cameras were installed," says Wolf. Support in the Cisco network for IP video and PoE also allowed the district to avoid the expense of installing dedicated network and power cabling for the cameras.
Everyone associated with the school has an improved feeling of safety. "The students and teachers can feel comfortable coming to the school. I can work late at night and not be afraid to be here," says Vicky Miller, a Santiago teacher. Adds Wolf, "The cameras and stored video also helped us to identify students who were involved in vehicle break-ins and other incidents that otherwise would have gone unsolved."
The relationship between the school and the local police department has also been positive. Officers helped with planning camera placement and can receive video files from the school on a CD-ROM or via e-mail.
"Parents feel better about the community, about the school, and about the district because they know their child is going to a safer school," remarks Nakano. "We know that if we can give students a safer environment, it will help those students learn and increase their achievement."
School officials believe the atmosphere at Santiago High School has played a part in sustaining the school's dramatically higher scores on standardized tests. Through many efforts, test scores for Santiago students have improved at a rate more than double the average of all high schools in California. As a reflection of these results, the Garden Grove USD won the 2004 Broad Prize for Urban Education. The Broad Prize showcases urban school districts across the United States that have the greatest success in raising overall test scores while reducing achievement gaps across ethnic lines and income levels.
With the success of the pilot project at Santiago, Garden Grove USD plans to install video surveillance systems in additional schools, as well as selected other facilities.
This customer story is based on information provided by the Garden Grove Unified School District and describes how that particular organization benefits from the deployment of Cisco products. Many factors may have contributed to the results and benefits described; Cisco does not guarantee comparable results elsewhere.
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