San Rafael City Schools
Cameras Live and Underway
The San Rafael City Schools (SRCS) community is comprised of two K-12 public school districts spanning across the city of San Rafael, California. Their mission is to empower students with skillful and individualized instruction that supports them in achieving their full potential. To meet this goal, the staff works tirelessly to create a physically and emotionally safe environment that is conducive to learning for all.
As the Director of Maintenance, Operations, and Facilities, Dave Pedroli oversees physical security to support school safety across all 13 campuses. He inherited a legacy security system with analog cameras connected to digital video recorders (DVRs), both of which had critical issues in reliability and downtime. After continuous camera and hard drive failures, Pedroli began testing new solutions and came across a free trial for Verkada’s hybrid cloud camera.
“I put the camera over a pregnant squirrel nest and shared the video on Facebook; I had friends from all over quickly searching through the footage, watching this squirrel get bigger and bigger before it finally left the nest. That sold me on the Verkada system: the ease of installation, and the simplicity of everyone being able to intuitively search through footage with no instruction.”
After the schools temporarily shut down due to COVID-19, Pedroli deployed 86 cameras to secure campus perimeters, entrances, exits, and other key areas such as pools and equipment storage.
“We tried several other systems, and Verkada was hands-down the best option. From plugging in the initial camera to deploying the next 80 plus, it was flawless and simple. The ease of installation, the ability to access cameras from anywhere, and the speed in which you can search through footage just made it the best by far above everything else.”
Incident resolution is simpler and faster with Verkada. With easy remote access through the Command software platform, getting video into the hands of first responders is instant. Pedroli has Motion Notifications enabled to detect suspicious activity across any of the campuses in real-time, and can share videos with law enforcement via SMS, email, or a direct link.
Remote Access via Web-Based Browser or Mobile App
“Once the system was deployed, we simply installed the app on our security personnel’s phones so they’re able to view cameras on their campus from anywhere. The same convenience applies when working with law enforcement; if we have an intruder in the middle of the night, we can sit in the parking lot and see exactly where they are so the officers can intercept them. We’re watching in real-time from our mobile devices, whereas before we’d have to get into the building or VPN in to access footage—Verkada just makes it simple.”
It now takes minutes to locate footage, when it used to take Pedroli and his team hours sharing the task of searching for an event. Verkada’s top-rated mobile app has the same functionalities as the web version, including motion, people, and vehicle search. He is able to share live video and archived footage with first responders directly from the app via SMS, email, or a direct link. From there, he can set a time for access to be revoked and use Face Blur to ensure privacy.
Ease of Digital Evidence Management for Liability Protection
“We received a call where someone claimed we damaged her car… I drove over to her, pulled the footage, and saw her running into the handrail. Having the ability to simply show her this video just immediately eliminated any problem. There was plenty of room, it wasn’t our fault, we’re not covering this damage—if anything she’s paying for the handrail—it ended the discussion right there. That’s worth far more than what the camera costs to install.”
Pedroli recalls a case where the owner of a car drove into a school handrail and attempted to claim damages. Within half an hour, Pedroli resolved the incident by retrieving the video on his phone and showing her the footage. He then saved the clip to unlimited cloud-based archiving, where it will be retained for as long as he needs it.
High-Quality Video with Digital Zoom
“We had a lot of problems with our pools, and now by drawing a motion grid around the pool equipment I can tell when somebody’s been monkeying with it. I can actually zoom in on the tanks, go into HD to see when the gauges are dropping, and know if we have CO2 in the tank.”
With Motion Grid search, Pedroli can draw a box around any area onscreen and identify when motion was detected in-frame. He can search and find footage in minutes, a significant time-savings compared to the hours it used to take manually watching through videos.
Motion Notifications and Person of Interest Alerts
“We have motion notifications enabled for cameras monitoring our pools. We had one gentleman that kept showing up at our sites, and with the cameras we’re instantly notified and able to follow him around. Within minutes I can archive the video, send it off the police department, and they can view it on their phones.”
With Motion Notifications, Pedroli is immediately alerted of any suspicious or unusual activity detected on campus; he can quickly review and share the corresponding incident footage with anyone who needs to view it. Prior to Verkada, this would have required him to physically be on campus, spend hours searching for the incident footage, film the video onscreen with his mobile device, then send it off to the police as a text message. “That was the most efficient way to get footage into the hands of law enforcement, because our system was a proprietary one. We couldn’t just renew it.”
User Groups with Granular Viewing Permissions
“I provide staff members with granular access to specific cameras; our athletic directors have access to cameras in the sports facilities, and our office workers have access to cameras in the parking lot outside their buildings. The other systems we tested didn’t allow us to decide who could view what cameras—at least not as easily.”
Pedroli has assigned personalized camera access to individual users and to groups. When adding users, he provisions them with site-level and role-based permissions depending on their location and job requirements. He has also created user groups to quickly and easily provision similar roles with the same permissions.
Looking Ahead: Preparing for a Safe Return to School
Pedroli currently has 86 live Verkada cameras, and 114 more he plans to install. As SRCS prepares for students to return to school, the cameras will be integral to the districts’ reopening plan.
“Security is of major importance to us… If I had to rely on the old systems, I would consider them worthless compared to how Verkada runs. The speed at which you can search and find footage is hands down the best deal going.”
To learn how Verkada can improve campus safety in your district, request a free trial camera, get a live demo, or join our weekly webinar.