Security Integrators Help School District Respond & Move Forward After Tragedies
Littleton Public Schools (LPS), in Colorado, is located a half-mile away from Columbine High School. So in 1999 when that now infamous massacre took place, LPS, along with many others in the state and nationwide took stock of its security technology and processes and began an upgrade that would provide them with state-of-the-art (at the time) technology, including access control, video surveillance, alarms, mass notification and more.
By late 2012, Guy Grace, director of security and emergency planning at LPS had come to an important conclusion: “I was so frustrated with our DVRs that we’d been installing since the last bond issue approval. At first, they were meeting our needs; they could handle the PTZ cameras and motion detection, but over time the supplier started eliminating basic functions we needed. It was making our jobs harder than they needed to be.”
At the suggestion of their local security integrator, Beacon Communications, which had been working with them since 2005 on security and intercom systems, the district selected 3xLOGIC hybrid network digital video recorders (NDVR) to replace the aging analog recorders. By November 2013, the district was due to start installing at Arapahoe High School. The plan was to do so over winter break 2013.
Then in December 2013, LPS suffered a fatal shooting at that school in an attack that lasted just 80 seconds, but left one student fatally injured. The shooter then killed himself.
“The true heroes were the staff and students,” Grace recalls. “He fired within three steps. Those staff and students reacted and responded and helped others to be safe.” While much about what happened that day proved that the security systems and procedures they did have helped minimize loss of life and injuries, there were also lessons learned that would inform what Grace and his team decided to do moving forward. It also sped up the timeline significantly.
The district was able to improve the video surveillance at the school immediately for its reopening after the December 13, 2013, shooting. The high school also received 18 new security cameras, mostly from donations from security vendors that had an established business relationship with LPS.
A new bond was passed shortly thereafter, and Grace began working with Beacon and, eventually, a second integrator, Denver-based Linx LLC, on an ambitious goal of creating a district-wide, comprehensive physical security information management (PSIM) system. Upon completion, the new PSIM system will oversee and coordinate security for approximately 15,000 students and staff at LPS’ 27 school and administrative buildings, spread out over 29 miles.
“A full-fledged PSIM system is our end goal,” Grace said. “We can bring a variety of systems that are non-proprietary — access control, VMS, fire detection, perimeter, mass notification, barrier protection/detection, and diagnostic systems — all together into one unified system. Technology has my back.”
Through a bid process, Beacon was given the task of installing and implementing the security technology at the schools, including the 3xLOGIC video, which the integrator had first recommended in 2012; a new access control system from Open Options; intercoms from Aiphone Corp., and an intrusion system from Bosch integrated with the district’s existing loss prevention provider, Inovonics. To put it all together at the command center, Grace tapped Linx to handle all of the programming and design of the custom graphic maps.
In all of the choices of technology, one thing was paramount: integration. “Guy wanted something completely IP-based,” said Johnathan Hasserd, security and service division manager, Beacon Communications. “They chose Open Options for all of the integrations, including being able to bring in Bosch for duress, the IP video, and have a single screen solution they could drive from their command center.”
But the process wasn’t always smooth. At both the manufacturer and integrator level, concessions and collaborations were an ongoing process.
“Open Options had to redesign its alarm automation software to accommodate Bosch and Inovonics playing together,” recalled Joseph Currier, security project manager, Linx LLC. “It was definitely a challenge. We are designing custom graphic maps that involve [all of these companies] and the software wasn’t designed to handle that type of communication.”
Added to that was another, somewhat unusual challenge. “We had two vendors working together between [us] and Beacon. Typically we don’t work with competitors hand in hand, but we found a way to make it happen,” Currier said.
Hasserd echoed these sentiments. “It is unusual to work with another integrator. It can make the job more difficult. They will change something [in the software] and it will affect something in the field.” The integrators then have to work together to figure out where the problem is. However, things are getting easier with time, he added. “This last year went a lot better than the previous year and next year will go better than this year.”
The focus on making things work together even led to some unexpected integrations, Hasserd said. “Everything has changed to IP and network-based, which leaves it open to many different integrations and work flow rules, automations and such. One thing we didn’t plan on doing was integrating the Aiphone system with 3xLOGIC to be able to record those conversations at the door. That was something Guy felt would be useful and we were able to do that at no charge by talking with [the manufacturers].”
At the command center, there is now an interactive district map that gives a bird’s eye view of the entire district, explained Race Seymore, security project foreman, Linx LLC. “Each school is an icon on this map, so if there is an alarm or duress signal the map will send out an audio saying what school is in trouble. The operator can then click on that school name and it will bring up the entire [interactive] blueprint of the school.”
The new PSIM system is also fully deployable for mobile applications, although not all have been implemented yet. LPS is issuing its 175 users tablets with Android software on them for mobile responses. Security officers and school resource officers can utilize video surveillance system data while on patrol from designated mobile devices. Intercoms and visitor management also can be done on district-provided Android devices. Each school is being provided a custom PSIM interface to be utilized by staff for security needs. Designated, authorized persons have access to cameras, building schedules, and the ability to know when a door is open. The district is also providing designated security and police vehicles with video and data feeds.
Grace is very pleased with the results of the system so far and with the capabilities the newer technology is giving him. “The Power over Ethernet is empowering for us as a school district. That is the difference between now and in the past. The bonds were for us to put in infrastructure that allows our district to evolve.”
Grace is wasting no time in doing just that. For example, he was contacted by one manufacturer directly for input in developing some new technology. “STANLEY Security approached LPS in 2014 and 2015 for designing a lockdown system,” Grace said. Grace gave them some feedback on what would be needed.
STANLEY launched BEST SHELTER, a responsive lockdown solution, designed specifically for educational K-12, business and healthcare environments in April 2016. “When they came back with this product I was quite intrigued because it allows school districts to implement lockdown at a lower cost,” Grace said. Currently one of LPS’s elementary schools is piloting an installation of the interior electronic locks for large spaces such as media centers and cafeterias. The plan is to eventually integrate the system into the district’s access control system, Grace said.
He is also evaluating audio analytics from Louroe, a company Hasserd brought to his attention. “He is very interested in the aggression detection that can catch arguments and could identify skirmishes before they get violent,” he said.
“Having an open system and the ability to use the best technologies is so important and I am loving that,” Grace said. “Every day you don’t know what you are going to see, but if it works and makes our kids safer and helps us educate, then we will try it.” — By Karyn Hodgson, SDM Senior Editor
PROJECTS in the News
3xLOGIC Inc. announced that Texas Health Huguley Hospital, located in Ft. Worth, Texas, and a member of Adventist Health System, continues to roll out its 3xLOGIC Intelli-M Professional access control system to an ever larger number of doors and entrances.
With 46 hospital campuses and more than 8,300 licensed beds in 10 states, Adventist Health System facilities incorporate the latest technological advancements and clinical research to serve more than 4.7 million patients annually.
“We had experience with other access control systems and those systems were highly proprietary,” said Stan Smith, safety and security manager for Texas Health Huguley Hospital. “We liked the flexibility of 3xLOGIC’s open system and we liked the price point.”
Texas Health Huguley Hospital has the access control system installed throughout its campus. Currently, about 75 doors are under management and Smith forecasts a total of 170 doors will be covered upon full deployment. “We can run the system to any location, whether we’re networked or not,” Smith explained. “We’ve got another building a couple of miles away, and we program a module, take it over there, and our badges work in both locations.”
Milestone Systems is helping the Topeka School District keep safe. Milestone XProtect Corporate software was chosen as the video surveillance and integration platform for a system-wide, multi-campus upgrade.
United School District (USD) 501 in Topeka, Kan., once relied on limited analog security systems to cover a few of its 40 school campuses and facilities. These stand-alone systems were not connected and produced poor image quality that created difficulties addressing and resolving incidents.
The district worked with systems integrator, ISG Technology, to identify a video solution to meet its needs: Milestone XProtect Corporate management software and 150 Axis network cameras, plus integrated S2 Security access control for door monitoring.
“Our system is light years ahead of what we had in 2010,” said Ron Brown, director of school safety, Topeka Public Schools. “Now we can go to any computer and see what’s going on at any of the campuses. Principals love being able to log in and check on school properties over the weekend.”
Digging for copper in the Radomiro Tomic mine of the state-owned mining company Coldeco is rough, rugged, and dangerous. Nearly every week, strong gusts of wind force 24/7 operations to a halt for an hour or two at the site located in northern Chile’s Antofagasta Region. Every day, clouds of dust or rock avalanches endanger the drivers of the giant trucks and excavators hauling thousands of tons of rocks out of the open pit mine, which is 3,500 meters long, 1,500 meters wide and 470 meters deep. The daily copper yield of the mine is 800 tons.
How does Coldeco maintain the highest security in this harsh environment, and still keep its capital-intense operation running at maximum productivity, to compete in the global commodities market? A team of 300 geotechnical experts monitors the operations day and night in a nearby center, and makes decisions to safeguard personnel, machinery and roads, while interrupting the mining as little as possible. Eleven Bosch cameras give the geotechnical team the observational insights they need to assure the smooth and safe operations of the mine. In every type of weather and lighting condition, even pitch-black night, the cameras installed on cabins around the open pit transmit data and video images to the monitoring center.
Thermal, infrared, and starlight cameras are all part of a Bosch complete reporting system that forms the basis for managing the entire mine. From capturing images from the open pit, to transmitting the videos wirelessly via radio networks to the monitoring center, it enables the geotechnical experts to constantly view and monitor the operations in the pit, analyze the geological condition of the rocks, and take preventive security measures if necessary. The system also records the videos (via a Bosch DIVAR IP 7000 recording unit), allowing the monitoring center personnel to run research queries for historical data analysis and an improved understanding of mine conditions.
The Mont Blanc is one of Europe’s most used tunnels. The 11.6 km-long road tunnel stretches between the Chamonix Valley in France and the Aosta Valley in Italy. The passageway is one of the major trans-Alpine transport routes.
The authorities responsible for the Mont Blanc Tunnel were in need of a solution that could grant all authorized staff and their vehicles secure access to restricted areas of the tunnel. An important requirement for the access control system, besides the fact that it had to be highly secure, was that it had to be convenient for staff, without the need to stop at the toll gates.
At both the Italian and French side of the Mont Blanc Tunnel, Selesta Ingegneria S.p.A, an Italian integrator, installed Nedap’s TRANSIT readers. This long-range reader identifies vehicles and its drivers up to 10 meters. To make sure only valid combinations of drivers and vehicles get access to the restricted zones at the tunnel, Nedap’s Prox Booster was used. This in-vehicle transponder contains a vehicle identification number that is combined with identification of the driver’s personal identification card.
The Alianza Lima soccer club, based in Lima, Peru, selected IDIS technology to provide an enhanced, state-of-the art security upgrade for its stadium facility.
One of the most storied soccer teams in South America, Alianza Lima is also among the most successful clubs in Peru, with 23 league titles, and boasts the largest fan base of any soccer club in the country. The Alianza Lima stadium, Estadio Alejandro Villanueva, was constructed in 1974, and has a capacity of 35,000 spectators. With four towers of artificial lighting, the main playing field, a complex for smaller divisions of the club, and training facilities, the stadium is one of the most impressive structures in Lima, but its security system, consisting of only 16 analog cameras, was woefully outdated.
In the face of increased vandalism and violent fan altercations, Alianza Lima began planning a security system overhaul. The club selected the experienced security industry business partnership of BTCO and Segurimax, leveraging technology from high-performance and cost-effective IDIS DirectIP solutions and facial recognition technology from Herta Security, an IDIS technology partner, to meet the needs of Estadio Alejandro Villanueva.
At the heart of Star Island, off the coast of Miami’s South Beach, is a newly built, 25,000 sq. ft. waterfront Mediterranean villa. Despite the villa’s many architectural triumphs, John Forte, founder and president of Forte Properties, said his home’s ultimate X-Factor is its sophisticated smart home infrastructure completely controlled by an ELAN Entertainment and Control System that is seamlessly and invisibly woven through every thread of the palatial villa.
“Owners of high-end, luxury estates such as the Forte’s Star Island villa expect their home to be outfitted with next-generation technology that is easy to use and fully functional, but virtually invisible to the eye,” said Raul Gonzalez, president of technology integration firm R&M Systems Group. “That’s precisely what we delivered: a sophisticated network of cutting-edge, interconnected A/V, security, climate, lighting, and pool/ spa subsystems, united and managed with a seamlessly integrated ELAN control system.”
Faraday Future selected AMAG’s Symmetry Enterprise Access Control System and Symmetry CompleteView Video Management System to secure its headquarters building in Gardena, Calif. AMAG’s Symmetry products also will be installed in its soon-to-be-built world-class, environmentally friendly manufacturing facility in North Las Vegas, Nev.
With highly responsive cars built to engage drivers, Faraday Future is on the forefront of the automotive industry, AMAG reported. Symmetry has been successfully installed in Faraday’s headquarters, office and R&D complex. The next phase of the project is the $1B, 3 million sq. ft., 900-acre manufacturing facility in North Las Vegas, which is currently under construction.
“AMAG’s Symmetry system provides a scalable enterprise platform that delivers the robust capabilities and interconnections required to achieve our high-growth oriented architecture,” said Ralf Reck, director global manufacturing IT at Faraday Future. “The scalable security platform integrates with the facilities and IT systems to deliver command and control for access control and video surveillance, including capabilities for audit readiness and advanced reporting.”
When the Bergen County Sheriff’s office in Paramus, N.J. wanted to amp up security in its new parking structure and renovated police services building, it selected Hanwha Techwin IP video surveillance cameras to do the job.
According to Philip Lisk, director of information technology at the Bergen County Sheriff’s office, approximately 150 of the Hanwha IP cameras were installed throughout and around the new parking structure. A key factor in the decision to implement 5 megapixel cameras was the ability to accurately capture license plates from 60 feet or more, combined with the ability for panoramic fisheye lenses to view both sides of cars entering and exiting the garage.
“We field-tested and did camera comparisons before making our decision to go with the Hanwha cameras,” Lisk said. “The image clarity of these cameras is incredible and the digital zoom capabilities are exactly what we need to monitor the parking structure and outdoor areas. Even when it transitions from day to night, the image is incredible.”