Founded in 1854, San Diego Unified School District is now the second largest in the state of California. More than 132,000 students representing 15 ethnic groups and more than 60 languages/dialects attend 226 educational facilities. These facilities include 117 traditional elementary schools, nine K-8 school, 25 traditional middle schools, 24 high schools, 49 charter schools and 14 alternative schools. The district has 13,559 employees, including more than 6,500 teachers.

With this large number of facilities, the school district sought a video surveillance technology solution that could be centrally administered while providing HD-quality images critical to more effectively managing behavior and preventing vandalism at locations throughout the district. A system that could expand in the future and accommodate additions — such as the access control technology the district hopes to deploy within one or two years — was also high on the wish list.

The school district had an existing video surveillance solution, but it presented a number of problems. It required two management servers, which was awkward and cumbersome. Programming cameras required navigating two operating systems. Training administrators and end users on the old technology required a lot of time, as did making district-wide updates.

The San Diego school district turned to local integrator Pro Shop Group for help. Pro Shop recommended a Dotworkz housing combined with the XProtect 6.0 video management software from Milestone, Beaverton, Ore., to manage a total of 1,169 cameras manufactured by Axis, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony. The installation runs on IBM and Dell servers.

“There were some key reasons why we chose Milestone for this project,” said William Ferris, founder and CEO Dotworkz (Pro Shop’s parent company). “Primarily, the school district needed the ability to handle the different technologies that they are currently engaging and planning on engaging in the future. But we definitely needed to have an open platform over a software system that was proprietary. This school district has a mixed group of camera technologies, old hardware and new hardware. SDUSD really understood what it takes to make video work for their dispatch team, as well as the importance of implementing the new video management tools and upgrades that would allow the staff to process more video streams as camera counts increase. Having software that could grow with their needs was key. Milestone had the drivers and databases that could get the legacy video hardware up and recording.”

As an organization that depends on voters’ support for bond funding, the investment in Milestone technology was made with an eye toward cost effectiveness. Milestone has paid off by dramatically reducing the amount of time required to administer the system and to train users and by reducing the vandalism that is costly to repair. It delivers further savings by reducing the number of staff required to physically monitor so many areas. According to district administrators, the system has improved conduct across the board by providing HD images that make identifying and, when appropriate, charging perpetrators a much less arduous process than it was before the installation of the Milestone software.

“This system makes each campus safer for students and staff,” said Mike Cho, safety and security coordinator, San Diego Unified School District. “We now have the level of visual communication we need to resolve most problems before they arise. When we do have incidents, we’re able to de-escalate situations more quickly than we could before.”