Safeguarding students and staff in every school is a priority. That’s a given. After all, academic settings are where our children spend the majority of their time. The security of perimeters, site entrances, car parking areas, doors, and windows – all need to be kept under constant review.
And as schools start to use even more technology as tools for teaching, these expensive educational aids need protecting too.
That’s why it was a privilege to be able to help the Stratford School Academy in east London to bolster their safety measures, with smart security solutions from market innovator, Verkada.
A SAFER SCHOOL FOR STUDENTS AND STAFF
The Stratford School Academy is spread across two sites in east London: Upton Lane and Grosvenor Road. It’s a school for 11 to 16-year-olds, with around 1,500 pupils.
In the winter of 2020, the academy wanted to enhance their security measures – both internally and externally. This was driven by their passion for making sure staff and students are safe and cared for.
Not only did the school want to deter theft and vandalism, they also wanted to manage school incidents more effectively. Instead of relying on hearsay ‘she said, he said’ reports from the pupils, they preferred to see what had actually happened for themselves. This would become a tool to allow them to respond accordingly – in line with GDPR standards, of course.
The school already had a legacy CCTV system in place. But, it was a DVR (digital video recorder) solution that was outdated and inflexible.
Charles Gardiner-Graham, Head of Estates and Operations, said: “The old security solution wasn’t user-friendly at all. I had to view footage from a separate, dedicated computer – and only when it was connected to that specific school network. And, as we’re spread over two, large sites, that wasn’t sustainable.
“It was also very slow and took up too much time to manage. We needed a massive upgrade.”
THE STRATFORD SCHOOL ACADEMY SECURITY SOLUTION
Our team was led by Mike Johnson, operations director – working closely with colleagues from Verkada.
Mike said: “Listening carefully to the needs of the school community, the solution was to design and install a network of high-quality, cloud-based indoor and external cameras that was very easy for the staff to use.
“This would also give the school a secure and scalable system that could be remotely accessed by any authorised user, from any device.”
Verkada pulled together a comprehensive site plan to show where each camera needed to be located. At our Derby HQ, Mike and the team then commissioned the cameras, installed any updates, and allocated names to each one.
Mike added: “After site visits and a full survey, we planned to install a network of 35 new Excel Cat6 cables to run the cameras over, while relocating 10 existing cables.
“The majority of the cameras would be from Verkada’s Dome Series. So, we knew they’d be perfect. 65 cameras were installed at the Upton Lane site and 52 at the Grosvenor Road site.”
HOW IT’S MADE A DIFFERENCE
The school is already feeling safer as a result.
Charles and the staff are now able to:
• Quickly access real-time and archive video footage from any device, at any location
• Find and share footage much more quickly – because of the advanced search capabilities
• Receive alerts to problems and quickly respond to incidents more effectively
Charles explained: “This new security solution saves me so much time. It’s so easy to use too.
“From any device, I can access a floor plan of the school, click on a camera I’m interested in, view the footage, and share it if I need to.
“Searching for footage is easy. Motion indicators show me when there’s been activity in a space, and at what time, so I don’t have to sit and watch hours of images. I can also search for faces, vehicles, and types of clothing.
“You can store footage on the cloud for as long as you need to. If there’s been an incident and video images have been requested from another member of staff, I can share a time-limited link with them, and they can then view the film at their leisure. Or, I can download footage too, if that’s what’s required.
“The school has a very strict process for what we can record, who can view the images, and when we can share them. I work very closely with our Police representative to keep our school as safe as it can be. But, it’s nice to have a 21st century video surveillance system that actually supports us to do our job!”
From a cost perspective, Ben Paulo, account executive at Verkada commented on how the school should expect to reduce their operating costs too. He said: “Compared to the old DVR system they had, they will undoubtedly save money. And we all understand that budgets in educational establishments are tight.
“The Verkada cameras they now have will significantly reduce the amount of time and effort taken to access, share, and manage the footage.
“The cameras themselves have very low-bandwidth requirements, but can still deliver high-resolution images. And because they’re vandal-proof, they won’t need replacing.”
WHY STRATFORD SCHOOL ACADEMY CHOSE US
Charles had done extensive online research and was impressed by the Verkada promotional videos that demonstrated what could be achieved.
As one of Verkada’s preferred partners, Connecture were recommended to bid for the work, and won the project after a legal tender process by the Stratford School Academy.
Ben Paulo, account executive at Verkada, said: “Connecture are very responsive. And if there’s a problem with a project, they let me know what the pain points are and how we can solve them. It’s very useful to have a partner that really understands the customers we work with.”
Charles added: “I was impressed by Connecture because they got the job done in the timeframe I wanted it done by. It was a very tight timeline they had, but they worked brilliantly as a team.”
Educational environments rely on video security surveillance systems to keep staff and students safe. But, those solutions must be easy to use for schools and colleges, in order for them to see a return on their investment.
The Verkada suite of security cameras, run over a network of structured cables, has helped the Stratford School Academy bolster their security measures, but in a more efficient way.
Connecture are UK-wide experts in designing and delivering, large-scale cable infrastructure projects – as well as state-of-the-art intelligent connected building technologies.