Guide to security cameras for schools, classrooms, and campuses

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What can school security cameras do for your campus or classroom?

For school administrators and security teams, enhanced situational awareness is vital to helping ensure the safety and security of education facilities. Security cameras for schools, or CCTV cameras for schools, can help administrators and security teams achieve this. Therefore, it’s not a surprise that between 2009–10 to 2019–20, the percentage of public schools reporting the use of CCTV cameras in schools grew from 61% to 91%, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. With this technology, schools and college campuses can:

Detect unfolding incidents and emergencies – Installing school security cameras at strategic locations will provide maximum awareness. Key areas include security cameras in school classrooms, libraries, entrances, hallways, stairwells, parking lots and faculty rooms. This gives school security camera system operators better visibility over areas where incidents and emergencies are most likely, enabling improved focus and faster response. From detecting escalating tensions within a group of students to spotting a potential fire hazard, security cameras in schools, including security cameras in classrooms, can provide users with a view of what’s happening without being there physically.

Deter bad behavior and illegal activities – The simple presence of security cameras in school classrooms, hallways, cafeterias, and outdoor grounds has proven to deter bad student behavior and criminal activities, whether that be bullying, theft or vandalism. According to Campus Safety Magazine, nearly one in three respondents to their 2020 survey (31%) stated that their school security camera systems frequently prevent crime. 

Capture evidentiary footage – In the event of an incident, school CCTV cameras can capture school security camera footage that can be used for evidentiary purposes by the administrators, school security team or local law enforcement. School security camera system footage of incidents and emergencies can also be used to better train individuals and teams to ensure there’s no repeat of the incident and improve future response efforts.

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Enhance awareness in schools with video analytics

In recent years, security camera technology has taken great strides to provide further features that can support the operator in enhancing the safety and security of their facilities, with video analytics being one of the most important advancements. Video analytics for education and schools can extend the security team’s capabilities by automatically alerting operators of potential incidents within their facility, allowing them to respond in real-time to events. These analytics include: 

Detect unusual motion – Unusual motion technology within school security cameras learn what a typical scene looks like. It then detects and flags unusual motion that deviates from the norm to the operator via the video management system (VMS). An example of this could be the movement of an intruder on school property outside of school hours in a school security camera scene.  

Detect unusual activity – Unusual activity technology detects atypical activities within a camera scene and alerts operators. An example of this type of video analytics for schools and educational facilities in action could be a speeding vehicle in the campus parking lot or an individual climbing the school’s perimeter fence. 

Read vehicular information – This type of video analytics automatically reads vehicular information and links it to live and recorded video. In the event of an incident involving a vehicle, security operators can search for this vehicle’s information and quickly find school security camera footage relating to it for verification and investigation. On some advanced school security camera systems, operators can be alerted to banned vehicles entering their grounds. 

Benefits of using security cameras and CCTV in schools

Increased situational awareness and faster incident response

Cameras for schools, including security cameras in classrooms, help provide the security team with a view of the activities taking place within their educational facilities. Without having to physically be there, the school security camera system operator can detect when a potential incident may be unfolding and provide vital information to the security team for an informed response. With video analytics-enabled security cameras in a school, the operator can be automatically alerted to an incident allowing for faster incident response. 

Improved student behavior

The presence of school cameras has been proven to improve the behavior of students on school property. With security cameras for schools installed, students think twice before bullying their peers, instigating arguments or fights and damaging school property as well as other activities. 

Deter criminal activities

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, during the 2019–20 school year, 77% of public schools recorded that one or more incidents of crime had taken place. This amounts to 1.4 million incidents across U.S. public schools. Deterring crime should therefore be a key focus for school administrators and this is where CCTV for schools comes in. As pointed out earlier in this guide, CCTV cameras in schools, as well as cameras located along the school perimeter, can prove to be a strong visual deterrent for crime. Well-placed school security cameras help prevent theft, vandalism, antisocial behavior or other illegal activities as people know their activities and identity could be captured in live and recorded footage.

Capture evidentiary footage

With school cameras installed at strategic checkpoints, whether that’s along the perimeter line, in the parking lot or along a hallway in a faculty building, footage of incidents and emergencies can be captured and stored within the school security camera system. This footage from security cameras in school can then be assessed to analyze what happened, identify the perpetrators involved and recreate the timeline of events. This can prove to be crucial in solving investigations both for the school security team and, if applicable, local law enforcement. School security camera footage can also be used for training purposes, especially when it comes to emergency preparedness and incident response workflows. 

Provides visual verification for access activities

The best security cameras for school integrate with existing access control systems to provide enhanced security. As a result, the security team can view real-time footage from security cameras in school to assess if the individual requesting access is authorized to enter the facility and is not an intruder using someone else’s access credentials fraudulently. All access activity and linked school CCTV footage are recorded on the activity log for reporting and investigatory purposes.

Avigilon Fixed Video Security Cameras for schools

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  • ONVIF® compliant allowing for easy integration with a variety of third-party VMS platforms.
  • Avigilon HDSM and HDSM SmartCodec™ technologies reduce bandwidth and storage needs while maintaining image quality, helping to keep connectivity costs down.
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The best types of security cameras for schools and K-12 campuses

School perimeter, parking lots and sports fields

Monitoring outdoor environments, such as the school boundary line, parking lots and sports fields, can be quite a challenge. Low-lighting, crowds and vast spaces are just a few of the things that make monitoring these sites difficult for security. Therefore, it is essential that the school or college campus CCTV cameras installed in these locations address these challenges and make the duties of the school camera operators simpler. The recommendation for parking lot cameras or perimeter cameras are the pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) school camera, the bullet school camera and the license plate capture school camera.

asdfPTZ school cameras

  • Provides wide-area coverage with up to 360° views and long-range detail thanks to its powerful zoom capabilities.
  • PTZ security cameras for schools are capable of handling a variety of outdoor conditions as well as being resistant to impact levels and vandalism.
  • The best PTZ security cameras for schools have built-in AI-powered video analytics that detects unusual activity, such as intruders or vandals, even in crowds.
  • Detect suspects and vehicles in variable lighting conditions, including darkness.

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Bullet school cameras

  • Good zoom capabilities allow operators to monitor incidents with clarity.
  • Some bullet security cameras for schools possess built-in AI-powered video analytics that detects unusual activity and motion.
  • The best bullet security cameras for schools can handle a variety of outdoor conditions and provide good imaging performance in low-light situations.

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License plate capture school cameras

  • Ideal for securing parking lots, as well as drop-off or pick-up zones. 
  • This camera type is capable of capturing vehicular information that helps to notify operators whether the vehicle is authorized to enter the parking lot.
  • The best license plate capture security cameras for schools are also capable of capturing vehicular information at high speeds, in low-light conditions and in inclement weather.

School exit and entry spaces

Exit and entry spaces see a lot of traffic from students, staff and visitors, and distinguishing between those that are authorized to enter and exit from those who are intruding is no easy feat. These spaces are also likely to experience variable lighting, such as bright sunlight, which can affect the imagery obtained by the school security cameras and make viewing live school security camera footage difficult. The best security cameras for school exits and entries would be a video intercom system paired with a dome or bullet security camera for schools. With this combination, operators can benefit from multiple viewing angles and utilize the intercom to verify visitors, helping to keep facilities secure.

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Video intercom system

  • Combines video security and access control so operators can utilize the video and audio feed when managing access events to support verification.
  • Built-in audio capabilities enable operators to activate audio talk down, helping to deter incidents.
  • Advanced video intercom systems are built with video analytics, which helps to establish the person’s credentials, as well as a wide dynamic range, which enables the camera to capture detail in dynamic lighting.

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Dome or Bullet school cameras

  • In case of an attempted intrusion, the dome and bullet security cameras in the school can capture clear video of the incident, helping to guide the response.
  • The latest dome and bullet security cameras in school have built-in AI-powered video analytic capabilities which allow the operator to discover unusual activity and motion.
  • These school security cameras deliver good imaging performance in variable lighting thanks to their wide dynamic range feature.

School hallways, classrooms, cafeterias and other indoor spaces

Hallways, cafeterias and libraries, along with classrooms and lecture halls, are busy areas within a school. With individuals constantly on the move and spaces such as these being both small and large, the best security cameras in school classrooms and other indoor spaces need to be versatile. At the same time, these cameras should not be obtrusive to the point where they make students, staff and visitors uncomfortable. While cameras in classrooms may have pros and cons, it is still important that security teams have awareness of what is happening in them in order to identify threats or potential incidents. There are a few camera types best suited to perform the requirements of effective video cameras in classrooms and other indoor environments such as the fisheye, multi-directional and corner school security cameras.

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Fisheye school cameras

  • The best fisheye security cameras for schools provide 360° panoramic views from a single vantage point, bringing superior situational awareness without any blind spots.
  • Sleek and low-profile design means these school security cameras are unobtrusive. For example, the Avigilon Fisheye camera also comes with an in-ceiling mount and a paintable front plate to help the camera blend in with its surroundings.
  • These security cameras in school classrooms and other indoor spaces can detect critical events with built-in video analytics, even in crowded spaces.

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Multi-directional school cameras

  • This security camera in school buildings, depending on the number of lens modules, can provide up to 360° views and broad area coverage. 
  • Fewer school security cameras need to be procured and installed as multi-directional cameras, can provide wide-area coverage, which lowers investment costs for schools on tight budgets.
  • Recognize potentially critical events to help you act faster with built-in analytics.

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Corner school cameras

  • The best corner security cameras for schools are built to withstand attempts to vandalize and destroy it with their impact-resistant nature.
  • The corner camera’s wide field of view can provide optimal situational awareness along hallways, lobby areas and interior building corners.
  • As with the other cameras, the best corner security cameras for schools possess video analytics that can further enhance situational awareness and instantly alert operators to developing incidents.

The importance of effective video management software

Of equal importance to selecting the right type of security cameras in school, classrooms and campus sites is choosing the right video management software (VMS) to accompany your video security setup. VMS enables video security operators to record, view, save and export school security camera footage that is captured from the security cameras in the school. From identifying the right VMS features your security team needs to ensuring the software can integrate with your existing school security camera system and other solutions, procuring the right VMS can make a real difference in how effectively safety is delivered.

What to look for in an effective VMS

Ease of use – Nothing makes the job of a video security operator more frustrating than having to deal with a VMS that is complicated and not user-friendly. VMS should be easy to use so that even inexperienced security professionals can get onboarded quickly without much training. This particular benefit makes all the difference when it comes to dealing with an emergency, where a quick response from the operator is essential to avoiding a negative outcome. 

Scalability – It’s important to invest in a VMS that allows your security team to scale the school security camera system in the event that more school cameras are installed and further users need to be given software access.  

Search and export capabilities – Features that will allow the user to search for specific school security camera footage, or for specific objects of interest, can expedite the response and investigative process. Once the required footage is found, the clip may need to be passed onto another department or local law enforcement as evidence. Therefore, it is essential that the VMS allows the user to export the footage safely and efficiently.  

Integration capabilities – By integrating your existing CCTV in schools with the VMS, you are helping to improve efficiency and enhance safety, as operators will be able to view and manage school CCTV footage from their VMS. Aside from the school security camera system, if the VMS integrates with other security solutions, such as a school security alarm system and access control technologies, users can utilize one centralized platform to monitor all the different solutions, leading to improved efficiency.

Cloud-capable – According to a 2020 study in Campus Safety Magazine, only 31% of all respondents stated that they are using cloud technology to deliver video security management to remotely monitor events at their school. By utilizing a cloud-capable VMS, school security teams can take advantage of its flexible nature by accessing security camera footage at any time, from anywhere. This means your security operators can monitor events using the cloud security cameras in school without having to be restricted to the control room. Schools and colleges can also scale their school security camera system easily while saving on hardware costs that would be associated with an on-premise solution. 

Compliance with policies – It’s vital that the VMS complies with local laws in order to protect the privacy of students, staff and visitors. Ensuring that the school safety software has strong resistance to hacking attempts, follows specific footage retention policies and provides a secure process to sharing sensitive information can help to strengthen security posturing, as well as make the job of the video security team simpler.

Reimagining school safety

As schools and college campuses continue to adopt a variety of security solutions ﹣ from video security and school door locks to radio communications and resource mapping software ﹣ it is important that security teams and administrators are able to easily and effectively manage all of them. When choosing security technology companies for your school, it’s important to consider whether investing in separate systems or using an all-in-one solution is a better fit for your facilities. A complete solution, like the Safe Schools technology ecosystem from Motorola Solutions, offers a unified and connected management experience that integrates critical communications, video security, data and analytics on one platform. Technology ecosystems like this can provide educational facilities with the ability to:

1 – Detect incidents with their school security camera system and access control solutions

2 – Analyze events with analytics and resource mapping software

3 – Communicate using radios

4 – Respond to incidents and complete end-to-end incident reports

By unifying wider security platforms with the school security camera system, schools and campuses can detect, analyze, communicate and respond to events more effectively which helps to create safer schools that are conducive to learning.

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