Christine Dzou

Verkada Raises $40M in Series B at $540M Valuation to Modernize Enterprise Video Security

Verkada Founders (Left to Right) – Filip Kaliszan, James Ren, Benjamin Bercovitz and Hans Robertson

Verkada, an emerging leader in the enterprise video security space, today announced the close of a $40 million Series B round co-led by Meritech and Sequoia, at a $540 million post-money valuation. Existing investors Next47 and First Round Capital also participated.

Konstantine Buhler, Principal at Meritech Capital, shares: “Verkada is redefining standards in the physical security industry. By combining several complex systems into an intuitive, software-driven platform, Verkada is positioned to become a leader in Enterprise IoT.”

In the past year alone, Verkada has acquired more than 1,000 clients, with over a dozen Fortune 500 companies spanning across industries such as schools, businesses, retail, hospitality, banking and healthcare.

Filip Kaliszan, Verkada’s co-founder and CEO, explains: “Enterprise video security was clearly an industry that needed improvements across reliability, user experience and design – much of what we’ve done is bring the simplicity of consumer systems to the enterprise space. By introducing smart features and making the solution cost-effective at scale, IT, Facilities and Security teams now have a resource that enables them to be more successful at their jobs.”

Not only do Verkada’s bandwidth friendly cameras offer up to 120 days of built-in storage, continuous footage can also be backed up to the cloud, eliminating any single point of failure while providing security professionals a secure and simple way to manage surveillance across locations on a centralized platform.

“Verkada is empowering companies to migrate from on-premise security cameras to a cloud-first solution. Filip and the Verkada team have designed a delightful plug-and-play camera coupled with great software that is accessible from anywhere,” said Mike Vernal, Partner at Sequoia. “A lot of magic can happen when you bring talented software and hardware people together. We found this rare combination in Verkada and are thrilled to partner with the team.”

With smart features like object detection and proactive alerting that trigger in the event of unusual activitiessuch as a person wandering on premise after business hours, or an unidentifiable vehicle parked in a loading dockmuch of the mundane tasks associated with surveillance management are eliminated, without compromising personnel and facility safety.

Verkada’s end-to-end solution encrypts data at rest, in transit and in the cloud. The cloud-based management system integrates with most mainstream single sign-on (SSO) providers, ensuring that authorized personnel can easily access and manage cameras from a single console without having to install local software and servers.

John Spirko, Sr. Director of Loss Prevention at Equinox, shares: “There are no secrets to becoming successful with Verkada. The way the system works is effortlessfrom the way it’s installed, to getting it up and running. With the right equipment and the right technology, we’ve been able to drive the business forward in other departments as well.”


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Spokane Offers Security Camera Rebates to Improve Safety & Property Management

Most companies would like to improve video security and property management but are limited by budget constraints.

Business owners in downtown Spokane can no longer use that as an excuse.

The Spokane City Council recently passed a proposal that offers rebates to downtown organizations that install new video cameras for property management.

The measure, which will provide a maximum rebate of $2,500 per address, has been pushed for the past two years by the Downtown Spokane Partnership (DSP), a group of business owners and stakeholders in a city home to more than 200,000 people. (Rebates will come in the form of an equal, dollar-for-dollar reduction in an annual business fee.)

Citing the problems of drug use and homelessness prevalent downtown, DSP president Mark Richard has led the charge to incentivize better security. “Out on our streets, it doesn’t always feel safe,” Richard told local news outlet KXLY. “It’s impacting people’s decision as to whether they choose to come downtown and we certainly need to make sure that isn’t happening.”

In passing the plan, Spokane joins several other locations across the nation that have seen the value of allocating public funds to encourage private video camera security.

It seems that more and more legislators and police departments are realizing that having additional video surveillance will deter crime and solve cases.

Washington DC’s Security Camera Rebate Program

The new initiative in Washington state’s second largest city resembles a similar measure already in effect all the way across the country in a place of the same name.

The national capital, long plagued by troubling crime stats, became a leader in this current trend when it instituted the Private Security Camera Incentive Program in 2016.

Administered through the Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants with operational support from the city police department, the program offers camera rebates of up to $500 for residential addresses and up $750 for small businesses, churches, and other eligible addresses.

In the first two years, DC funded some 10,000 cameras, although a recent report suggests that participation has lagged in the higher-crime areas of the city that could benefit the most from a larger investment into security.

Detroit’s “Project Green Light” Security Camera Program

Detroit, another city dealing with high crime, also launched its own security camera expansion initiative, called Project Green Light, in 2016.

According to the Detroit Police Department at the time, “this project is the first public-private-community partnership of its kind, blending a mix of real-time crime-fighting and community policing aimed at improving neighborhood safety, promoting the revitalization and growth of local businesses, and strengthening DPD’s efforts to deter, identify, and solve crime.”

The nature of the program differs somewhat from the other rebate offers. To start, cameras were installed directly at eight pilot gas stations by the city police, which have real-time monitoring access and have since greatly expanded the number of participating locations.

Project Green Light is not without its controversy but it has been “credited with a decrease in carjackings and overall crime around participating businesses,” according to Crains’s Detroit Business. Overall, the program has been successful enough for Mayor Mike Duggan to propose something of an offshoot expansion that he is calling the “Neighborhood Real-Time Intelligence Program.”

Reading, Pennsylvania

The city of Reading, Pennsylvania, is among the latest to jump on the bandwagon. Last December, the city approved a rebate measure very similar to the structure seen in Spokane— to encourage the implementation of technologies to improve property management and physical safety.

“The program creates a rebate for residents, businesses, nonprofits, and religious institutions to purchase and install security camera systems on their properties and register them with the police department,” reported the Reading Eagle.

With $25,000 allocated for the initiative through the Reading Area Water Authority (RAWA), the government is hoping to see significant participation this year.

“The board encourages all other entities to join in this effort,” stated the RAWA. “Economic development begins with taking care of the existing base. This is a great opportunity for improving the image of the safety of the communities.”

Rebate Programs in Your Area

These and other programs using public funds to incentivize camera installations highlight the ongoing demand for better security across the United States. More and more people see the value and want to keep their homes, businesses, children, and loved ones safe.

No matter where you are located, check with your state and local governments to determine if any rebate programs have been passed in your area.

If there are, take advantage immediately! If there are no incentives, consider asking your elected officials why not. The funding necessary to launch such property management initiatives has started small, even in mid-sized cities like Spokane and Reading, and are easy-to-support proposals for many elected officials.

As such programs continue to prove their value, even more cities are likely to jump on board. All it will likely take is a few taxpayers and local stakeholders to start requesting some help to fund video cameras and security improvements.

For those looking for even greater savings, Verkada offers discounts for different industries and bulk orders. To get an instant quote please fill out this form

New Jersey Will Soon Award $500 Million in School Safety and Improvement Grants

Over the past year, many state and local governments have passed funding initiatives to improve school safety. Verkada has been paying close attention to these developments. This is the first in a series of blog posts, designed to provide information about how schools in different states will be upgrading physical security using this influx of public money.

New Jersey is one of many states that has committed major resources to school safety. Last November, voters in the Garden State approved a $500 million bond initiative. The Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act (NJ S2293) that will help fund education, including $350 million specifically earmarked for school security projects and county vocational schools.

The large public expenditure only accelerates a nationwide trend playing out across large states such as Pennsylvania, Virginia, Michigan and Florida—the site of a massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year, which motivated many legislatures to act.

“These funds would allow New Jersey’s public schools to get cameras, stronger doors that can be used for fortification and better ways to keep our students safe,” State Senator Steve Oroho told the New Jersey Herald before the vote.

While half a billion dollars is a major financial outlay, the total came up short of what many Congress members wanted to allocate. Lawmakers originally passed a $1 billion bill, but Democratic Governor Phil Murphy, arguing that borrowing costs would exacerbate an already-high debt burden, used a conditional veto to cut the amount in half before it went to the ballot.

Nevertheless, the governor stressed the need for increased security at schools when advocating for the measure. “School safety and the world we live in, we can’t ignore that,” said Murphy.

The final initiative passed by a small, but clear, majority, with 53% of voters (representing 1.13 million people) approving the bond. In addition to school safety, it will provide $100 million to improve water infrastructure at various institutions and another $50 million for community colleges.

Additional School Security Funding

In addition to the Securing Our Children’s Future Act, Governor Murphy recently signed another piece of legislation to double school security funding at private schools in New Jersey. Known as Assembly Bill No. 4597, the law appropriated $11.3 million from the Department of Education’s general fund that will raise security aid from $75 to $150 per student, according to NJ Insider.

“A primary and essential function of government is providing security for our residents,” said State Senator Joseph Lagana, a sponsor of the bill. “Nothing could be more important than protecting our children and ensuring parents have peace of mind and full confidence that their schools are equipped to keep students safe.”

Voters have moved to support other initiatives at the local level as well. The Maple Shade School District, for example, passed its own school improvement initiative late last year. The bulk of the newly allocated $49.7 million will go toward building classrooms at Maude Wilkins Elementary School and a gym at Maple Shade High School, among other renovations. But the plan will also fund new security vestibules and interior doors at district schools.

Making Video Surveillance a Priority

Lawmakers in New Jersey have highlighted many different ways for schools to improve safety through the Securing Our Children’s Future Act. Along with stronger doors, access control systems, alarms, screening methodology (like x-ray scanners), increased personnel, and other technological innovations, Congress members have also cited surveillance cameras and monitoring solutions as critical elements to increasing security.

Vigilance is vital in an active-shooter situation. Preventing access to school buildings, through better locks and entry procedures, is always a priority. This is one of the first ways that many schools in the state are expected to implement the funding. But video security systems also greatly help officials monitor the facility’s surroundings for suspicious activity. And if those external lines of defense are ever breached, having a real-time view throughout the premises is invaluable for law enforcement and others working to end the crisis.

Verkada Solutions Help Improve School Safety

Verkada’s cloud-based surveillance cameras have become the leading choice of many enterprises. These modern, full-featured devices are praised by end users for their simplicity, quick installation and ability to retain up to 120 days of footage.

Such features are especially beneficial in the world of education. While most corporations employ large, sophisticated IT departments, public schools rarely have that luxury. So in this environment, using a solution with a simple setup, user-friendly software and minimal maintenance can be a literal lifesaver.

There is also another key benefit to consider: Verkada offers specialized pricing for individual schools and school districts.

Looking (and Planning) Ahead

When it comes to keeping kids safe, New Jersey has spoken. The world has grown increasingly perilous for students of all ages. And with hundreds of millions of dollars now in play, schools across the Garden State would be wise to begin formalizing their proposals now.

This means prioritizing the top ways to upgrade security—through adding video surveillance, implementing access controls, increasing personnel or by other means. Those planning to apply for funding should start researching the appropriate vendors, formulating cost estimates and determining how long any potential projects might take to complete.

Full details of the Securing Our Children’s Future Act grant application process have not yet been announced. But they are sure to emerge soon, and Verkada will be closely following any developments. So please check back often for all the latest about the school safety improvements to come in New Jersey and other states across the nation.

To see how Verkada’s specialized pricing can help your school or district protect students with advanced video security, request a custom quote.

Digital Transformation in the Security & Surveillance Market

In recent years, “digital transformation” has become a buzzword that remains top of mind for many technology leaders.

At its best, digital transformation integrates modern technology into different areas of a business to reduce operational inefficiencies. This also enables teams to deliver value to customers at an increasingly rapid pace, allowing businesses to stay at the forefront of innovation. At its worst, digital transformation results in wasted spend time on technological overhauls that disrupt daily operations and fall short of critical objectives.

Whether it’s a mismatch between a software solution and the problem it’s intended to solve, poor implementation of a new tool, or oversight of high-level business goals, digital transformation can offset agility and move companies into stagnation.

However, the reality of the matter is that digital transformation is ongoing and inevitable. And the success of such initiatives is far more attainable than it might initially seem.

Digital Transformation in the Security Market

There is no perfect way to undergo a digital transformation. If it was easy, every company would be thriving by incorporating new innovations. Still, more and more companies are finding success by embracing ways they can make quick and tangible progress.

We are seeing this reality play itself out in the video camera security market. Large corporations may have thousands—even tens of thousands—of cameras. Replacing every single one, across different states and jurisdictions, is overwhelming. IT executives know their old system is outdated, full of inefficiencies and flat out not getting the job done anymore. But who has the time or resources to tear everything down and set up something new?

Successfully Upgrading Your Security Solution

While digital transformation may look different for every organization, here are a few tips that technology leaders should consider as they build out the framework for a new security solution.

Put Strategy Before Technology

Before jumping into infrastructure upgrades or modifications, it’s prudent to evaluate the current pain points and bottlenecks within your organization. Identify what gaps exist in your current setup, and how updating your system might impact processes and procedures.

By thoughtfully crafting a set of priorities that the framework should accomplish, the team can evaluate (at the end of the upgrade) whether or not it was a successful attempt at digital transformation.

Manifest Changes Through Smaller-Scale Deployments

When it comes to deployments of newer technology, making minor updates and upgrades can validate whether or not a solution is right for a teams’ specific use case. Implementation in this instance is less disruptive; resources aren’t completely removed from business-critical operations and the risk of potential downsides is less daunting.

When evaluating security cameras, many IT professionals deploy Verkada’s software-based security camera system in one or two locations before completely replacing existing CCTV systems. This gives system administrators the opportunity to assess the effectiveness of the solution before fully deploying across multiple locations. Once they’re confident that security needs can be met, they begin rollout in a series of stages, making deployment manageable.

Get Early Input From Your Team

The success of any tool or solution is dependent on three factors:

  1. Does it solve a problem, or streamline inefficiencies, for your team?
  2. Does your team know how to use it?
  3. Is it easily accessible when your team needs it?

After all, a tool is just a tool until it’s adopted and utilized. By giving a team the opportunity to evaluate a tool that may become a part of their daily stack, they can determine whether or not that technology effectively fits into existing workflows.

During the vendor evaluation period, many security professionals considering Verkada’s solution onboard colleagues that may use the platform down the line (e.g., school administrators, mayors and facility managers). By involving the team early on and gathering feedback before full implementation, security administrators can gauge if, and how, the tool would eliminate inefficiencies, reduce spend or build structure around haphazard processes.

The Reality of Digital Transformation

Digital transformation, regardless of the pace at which it occurs, results in significant long-term upside. So instead of waiting until the time is perfect, embrace what might be a multiple-solution technology trend and start making strategic steps forward.

Ready to start transforming your organization? Get a 20-minute demo and see how Verkada can help your organization modernize its approach to video security.

Simplify School Security: An IT Director Shares 3 Tips

Modern video camera security systems make installation easy. With cloud connectivity to store footage and minimal maintenance needs, the requirements to set up and operate a highly-sophisticated surveillance solution pale in comparison to the onerous, complicated options available even a decade ago.

That said, there are still certain best practices and protocols to follow if you want to optimize your camera system and simplify school security.

Jim Carrillo, Director of Technology at Morgan Hill Unified School District, has gone through the process himself when outfitting a local high school. Given the district’s location—just south of Silicon Valley, the epicenter of digital innovation—he is quite familiar with modern devices, platforms and software solutions. But he has actually found that the trickiest aspects don’t center on tech.

“The three tips that I’d like to share are absolutely not from the perspective of technology,” said Jim. “That’s what I learned.”

The following three recommendations come from Jim’s first-hand knowledge, which he shared with Verkada recently during an exclusive webinar.

 

Always Have a Purpose

At one of the Morgan Hill high schools, cameras were initially set up all around the school to cover the vast majority of the campus. But because they were not located strategically, with enough planning and consultation from officials at the school, they left significant gaps in surveillance.

The initial objective was to simply cover as much area as the budget allowed, rather than understanding where the hot spots were located. “We covered about 80% of the high school,” Jim recalled. “Guess where most of the complaints I get from the principal are? The 20% that we didn’t cover. And that’s because we didn’t have a purpose. We said, ‘We’re just going to try to cover everything.’”

Jim’s takeaway? “When you’re deploying security cameras, start with a purpose.”

In the case of the school, this required re-evalutating the security objectives and led to prioritizing the places where people come and go. After those areas were covered, they realized they could supplement coverage in any areas that became a problem down the line.

“We would like to capture every entrance point so we can validate the people that are coming onto our campus,” he explained. “We’re not trying to cover everything, just the entrance points. The second purpose that we’re going for is to have the ability to put an ad hoc camera to address vandalism and security issues. That’s much more doable.”

 

Manage Expectations

In a world where everyone has watched CSI and NCIS, people expect a lot. From the very beginning, they presume they will be rolling out a level of video surveillance that really only exists in the realm of a fictional agency. They think they’ll be able to take the footage from any video camera security system and magically say “ENHANCE!” to zoom in with 4K resolution on even the tiniest details in the frame.

“Every single person in your district probably watched the Bourne Ultimatum and they’re expecting your security cameras to be able to support that level of investigation,” said Jim. “What’s the license plate of that person that drove by? Or can I get the fingerprint off the camera?”

While many can just laugh off such absurdity, the inability to play FBI crime scene investigator can be a genuine letdown for some end users.

They may also expect to have someone constantly monitoring footage to catch any inappropriate behavior in real time—so that the authorities can spring into action and take down the bad guy. While there are certainly some highly secure facilities that maintain this level of oversight, for most users, this is neither necessary nor a reasonable expense to take on.

Jim has learned to anticipate these type of questions and fully explain the capabilities and benefits of an enterprise-grade video camera security system. If you manage expectations from the outset, you can head off disappointment and ensure everyone is on the same page.

 

Don’t Rely on a Single Expert

One other major issue cropped up in the district during the installation. Jim shared that “When we first set up our security cameras, prior to doing any implementations with the Verkada system, we had a subject matter expert—a single person that knew everything about the camera systems.”

This seemed logical. If there was someone who knew the entirety of the setup and the purpose behind it, they would be the perfect person to continue overseeing operations.

But, in the real world, this can cause problems. “Boy, did that get us into trouble,” he conceded. “That person got another job, so then we had to retrain somebody. It put a big halt in the implementation.”

Fortunately, the system was simple and user-friendly enough that training other workers was not a massive undertaking. But this issue could have been sidestepped altogether had they taken an approach that leveraged one of Verkada’s best features: ease of use.

“All of the staff in the IT department and even non-IT-department personnel, like in facilities, can be trained how to use it,” he affirmed. “Disseminate that [training] so that you’re not dependent upon one person. Look for a system that allows you to do that.”

 

Starting Off on the Right Foot

There is no substitute for first-hand knowledge. While explanations and product overviews are helpful in the lead up to an installation, experienced professionals know that there will always be challenges to overcome.

But by learning as much as you can, and planning for the specific needs of your enterprise, these known pain points can be significantly reduced.

Every organization will experience much better results if they make sure to set out with a purpose, manage user expectations and empower multiple employees to become stakeholders in the overall strategy. When all of these factors are addressed, video camera security system implementation will run much more smoothly.

For additional information on this topic, download the on-demand recording of the discussion. Also check out the Building Effective Partnerships Between Security Experts and Security Vendors webinar for more insight on the state of the industry.

What Businesses Need to Consider When Buying a Security Camera System

Video surveillance was once the domain of just a few industries. But successful companies are increasingly recognizing that it makes sense to have a 360-degree view of their operations, 24 hours a day.

For most organizations, the benefits in terms of security, safety and risk management easily outweigh any minor downsides. So, for those planning to purchase a security camera system, the first question is: where do you start?

Assessing Your Setup

The best place to begin is by assessing your current setup. For startups or organizations without a pre-existing installation, this part is easy. But for the majority, this will mean understanding the drawbacks and pain points of the system that you are already using.

The most common issues often center around old, outdated technology reliant on software that feels decades old—and might actually be. Many systems also depend on ancient devices equipped with finicky cables and glitchy quirks that require unique, aggravating workarounds. Others may be utilizing something from this century, but still find that the solution fails to adequately meet their needs.

Video Security Goals

After assessing your current system, the next step is identifying your video security goals. These objectives can vary significantly from firm to firm and sector to sector.

For many, the main video security goal will be monitoring entry/exit points and detecting any suspicious activity. Others will be using cameras more for identification purposes. And some will be primarily concerned with observing customers and personnel, or merely maintaining archival footage—for compliance purposes or in case they ever need to defend against a lawsuit.

These objectives can help determine the needs of your installation, including where to place cameras, what type of on-site monitoring is required and who can remotely access real-time footage.

Operational and Technical Requirements

The next item to consider is the system’s operational requirements. Again, some of this will depend upon your goals, such as who has access to recordings and in what ways. But there are other factors to weigh as well. For example: how will the footage be stored and for how long? Depending upon the facility’s location and what industry you operate in, there may be federal, state, or local regulations that answer this question for you.

Technical questions should also be asked. What type of connectivity does the location have? Are the bandwidth and transfer speeds sufficient to move the amount of data associated with video recording? Should you use a cloud-connected system that doesn’t demand high-speed connections, can deal with outages and is able to function optimally on an unreliable network?

Available Resources

Once this is all understood, you need to look at your resources. For many enterprises, this will unfortunately be a determining factor. The scope and scale of a security camera system often depends upon the organization’s budget, available personnel to set up the system and time required to finalize the installation.

It is important to comprehend both the upfront and ongoing operational costs when setting a budget. A cheap initial setup can often prove more expensive (and infuriating) in the long run, due to the time and number of employees needed to maintain your system. So remember: The technology and primary installation themselves are only part of the total cost of ownership that you will pay over the full lifecycle of any security camera system.

Scalability and Long-Term Viability

Alongside these considerations are other underlying implications for the solution over time. First of all, how scalable is it? If you expand or add another location, how easy will it be to extend the current surveillance system and protocols? Growth is a primary goal of almost every enterprise, so you should be thinking about this from the outset.

Then there is the matter of training. How easy will it be to hand off the oversight of the system to a new CTO or bring new IT staffers up to speed about ongoing operational requirements? All too many companies have an old or overly-complicated structure that works fine now—until Steve The Tech Guy retires and there is nobody left in the organization who knows how it works.

Getting Your Best Security Camera System

Almost every business needs some level of video security. In many cases, that just means a few cameras, a central monitoring solution and storage capability. Others will need to establish a true enterprise-wide system across dozens—or hundreds—of locations.

No matter where on the security spectrum your organization is (or would like to be), you will benefit greatly from taking the planning stage seriously. Whether you’re upgrading an entire legacy system or plugging in a camera for the first time, pay close attention to all these factors. Doing so will save you both time and money, and ensure that the solution you select will be perfectly suited to the needs of your business.

Want more expert advice to help you find your ideal solution? Check out our latest eBook, How to Choose the Right Video Security System for your Organization.

What to Ask Before You Buy: Security Vendor Evaluation Checklist

Each type of video surveillance system architecture presents different security risks. With this in mind, it is important to find a vendor that prioritizes security appropriately from the ground up.

When evaluating a video security vendor, use these questions to better understand the protocols and best practices that underpin their recommended system. These questions are intended for reference only. Be sure to consult with your company’s physical and IT security teams before selecting a security system partner.

By taking an innovative approach and working with vendors that deliver simple, secure solutions, you can be confident that the system you adopt will scale with your evolving business needs.

To learn more about selecting the right vendor and solution, check out our latest eBook: How to Choose the Right Video Security System for Your Organization.

Enhance School Safety in 5 Simple Steps

School safety has been top of mind for years. But the urgency to make improvements increased considerably following the tragic events earlier this year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

After a gunman killed 17 people on the campus, legislators across the country began to push for more funding to safeguard learning institutions—from kindergartens up through universities. Over a billion dollars has already been allocated for improvements from coast to coast. Now, it is up to individual schools to create security plans and apply for the grants that will help protect their students and faculty.

While every school safety initiative requires a detailed, exhaustive look at all potential points of vulnerability, the following simple steps will help ensure that any school is well on its way to strengthening security. By addressing each of these key points, it will be much easier to create and implement a plan that works.

Step 1: Identify Physical Points of Attack

One of the most common changes schools have made in response to recent shootings has been to limit access points. This is generally a good practice. By making it more difficult to enter the building, even a school that lacks the finances to hire more personnel can maintain better vigilance over who is coming and going.

Naturally, this must be balanced with fire code regulations, logistics and other factors. But every school should systematically analyze its points of egress. These are the primary locations in which to position security upgrades. Having a greater understanding of the premises will be invaluable in the event that the school ever experiences an active-shooter situation.

Step 2: Assess Digital Security Vulnerabilities

As with physical security, schools need to take greater precautions to shore up their digital defenses. While we have not yet seen incidents in which a disturbed student takes over a school’s system to disrupt surveillance or physical infrastructure before launching an attack, the need to fortify all areas remains critical.

Beyond violent threats, schools house sensitive data about students, finances, strategic planning and many other areas. These all must be protected to prevent malicious actors from gaining access that could inflict financial damage or expose potentially-embarrassing information to the public.

Take a good look at all areas that might be exploited. These could range from physical servers and other devices, to system access points and admin logins. Implement stronger firewalls, ensure proper privileges are reserved for the right people and eliminate access for anyone who no longer needs to use these systems. Users themselves are often the weakest link in the chain. This makes it vital to properly train all faculty members on how to create strong passwords. They should also be taught tactics to avoid phishing, social engineering or other methods employed by hackers.

Step 3: Establish Emergency Protocols

It is a sad reality, but schools today need to have plans in place to deal with an active-shooter scenario. Administrators and teachers must be prepared for this type of emergency, just as they would if a fire started. This includes assigning leadership roles to certain employees and establishing protocols for when to shelter in place versus evacuating students.

In any crisis situation, communication will be difficult and emotions will run high. So these plans must be very well explained and practiced. This will provide a better chance of a good response if an actual event ever occurs.

Students also need to have some level of training. A balance must be reached between due diligence and going overboard (you don’t want to needlessly frighten young children). But there can be emotional benefits to educating students about what to do during a crisis. They see these tragedies on the news and many are scared that they could be next. Empowering them with the right level of preparation can go a long way to ease their minds.

Step 4: Talk To Your Students

If student shooters are the enemy, their classmates can help bolster your defense. A study in California found that up to 30% of students have seen some kind of weapon at school, with at least 125,000 saying that they have been threatened. Just getting them to report these incidents can greatly improve prevention. A student who brings a knife (or even nunchucks) could someday come to school with something much more dangerous.

These conversations need to go deeper than spreading the “see something, say something” message. Schools should create initiatives that aim to lower the levels of bullying and discrimination among students. Administrators that establish counseling resources are more likely to reach kids who feel ostracized. Protocols should also be instituted to share any truly worrying cases with law enforcement or other relevant authorities.

There is no guarantee that these approaches will keep a troubled student from doing the unthinkable. But they will help foster an environment that is better prepared. Addressing mental and emotional health concerns can potentially reach someone before they go over the edge.

Step 5: Be Proactive with School Safety and Security

Fortunately, much of the assessment and planning phase can be done with relatively minimal expense. It just takes a dedicated team of people, willing to engage in some careful consideration about how to locate vulnerabilities and outline emergency protocols.

Virtually any school could also benefit from some physical improvements, however, and these will require funding. Given the ongoing threats faced by our educational institutions, this is more of a necessity than a luxury. Jurisdictions ranging from the federal government and states, to individual counties and cities have allocated money for schools to implement security upgrades. 

Simple technology should not be overlooked. Two-way radio communication devices, for example, are incredibly useful. Additionally, relatively inexpensive software can create detailed facility mapping to help security personnel and administrators better understand the location they are protecting.

Most schools are also opting to invest in other types of improvements. Entry control systems, intrusion alarms, screening equipment and emergency alert systems have so far been the most common. Better video surveillance can do wonders to help monitor entry points and key areas within the building. This can be useful both for general supervision and during an active-shooter incident. School security will always be challenging, but modern plug-and-play camera systems can help provide a simple solution for school districts and campuses of any size.

Planning to Succeed

Each of the elements above is critical to upgrading school safety and safeguarding those who work and learn there. There is no way to completely eliminate threats. But better planning and vigilance can help make sure that security remains a primary focus.

Remember that conducting thorough and systematic assessments at the outset is just as important as establishing and implementing emergency protocols and upgrading equipment and technology. When everything is done together in concert, and any available funds are spent wisely, any school can create great results.

For additional information, check out 5 Reasons Schools Are Choosing Verkada for Campus Safety or get some tips to help Simplify School Security.

5 Common Myths About Your NVR or DVR Video Surveillance System

5 Common Myths About Your NVR or DVR Video Surveillance System

Security is paramount for organizations these days, and most good protection strategies include video surveillance cameras.

More often than not, the default enterprise system centers around either a network video recorder (NVR) or digital video recorder (DVR) to capture footage from the various cameras that monitor the premises. While plenty of companies have found success using DVR and NVR systems, it can also be fraught with under-discussed pain points.

As people continue to ignore everything from hidden costs and challenging installations, to unforeseen cybersecurity concerns and scalability limitations, the following five myths still circulate about these systems.

Issues run the gamut—from inconvenient, to expensive, to potentially devastating—making it imperative to understand the pros and cons of any security system.

Myth #1: NVRs/DVRs Are the Most Economic Surveillance Solution

While it’s true that NVR security and DVR security systems are often among the most affordable options out of the box, focusing on upfront costs alone could prove to be short sighted. The truth is that a DVR or NVR security system includes many hidden costs that only become apparent after the initial hardware investment has been made.

Enterprises should be aware of the ongoing IT maintenance expenses associated with CCTV cameras, which can add up quickly since reviewing footage can be slow and tedious with the outdated software solutions available. Upgrading services and storage, replacing equipment that fails, and expanding the system as you grow will all require additional expenditures.

While NVR/DVR devices are available with 16 or even 32 channels, many locations initially use smaller models that only support four or eight camera inputs. Though this may be sufficient when the office opens, in time, the company might have to add more NVRs or DVRs to accommodate additional cameras.

Myth #2: NVRs/DVRs Offer the Utmost Reliability

One selling point boasted by NVR/DVR providers is the system’s reliability. This is overhyped for various reasons, but the most significant is the reliance on what can become a single point of failure.

First and foremost, when an NVR or DVR stops functioning, all the connected cameras fail with it. So rather than just having one entry point or area left without wireless security camera surveillance, the entire facility enters a blackout—a potentially disastrous result, which malicious actors can exploit.

Moreover, this type of failure means you don’t just lose the ability to monitor the site when the system malfunctions. You will potentially lose historical footage that may be tied to an earlier incident of consequence. And when retention protocols come undone, legal risks emerge.

Then comes the small stuff. A loose cable connecting a camera to the on-premise recorder , for example, would result in camera downtime, that is unlikely to be discovered until footage needs to be pulled from DVR records. This lack of coverage for hours, days, or even weeks is in violation of video retention laws that require a certain period of footage to be stored on-premise.

Myth #3: NVRs/DVRs are Easy to Install

DVR systems are usually billed as “idiot-proof” solutions, since they allow operators to simply attach cameras to the device by plugging in a few cables and expecting uninterrupted HD video recording in return. NVR systems are known to require a bit more effort in terms of setting up networked cameras. But both are sold with the promise of being very simple to implement and use.

However, all the equipment still has to be configured to communicate with each other and software must be run on top of the system if you want to monitor the video locally.

This, of course, requires a monitor to be input, as well—while viewing remotely necessitates the addition of a router that passes the footage through a firewall then through the internet to be seen on computers, smartphones, or other devices. Add in all, the cables and installation of software on remote access devices and your seemingly plug-and-play system becomes anything but.

Myth #4: NVRs/DVRs Are Secure

Because a DVR or NVR security system is located on site, it can be self-contained locally and remain fully disconnected from the wider internet. In theory, this makes it incredibly difficult for malicious actors to hack and manipulate.

But most enterprises will want some sort of remote access to their IP cameras. Monitoring live footage is critical when it comes to responding to serious incidents in real time. (This is one of the main reasons many organizations need surveillance cameras in the first place.) And from an IT perspective, making firmware or other updates remotely saves time, money, and hassle.

So while a NVR/DVR system could potentially be air gapped from the world and fully protected, in order to use a video recorder in the way most companies want to, you have to drop its security defenses. Any established firewall must be punched through to establish remote access, and a VPN (even when established properly) can still expose your system to some of the worst network risks.

This helps explain why Symantec, in its benchmark 2018 Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR), (ISTR), ranked DVR security systems second on its list of vulnerable devices involved in the Internet of Things attacks against its honeypot last year. Cameras also made the top ten, coming in eighth.

Myth #5: NVRs/DVRs Are Scalable, Regardless of Enterprise Size

While these systems can offer a low cost of entry, any savings can quickly vanish as a business tries to scale up its video security. What works well in a single location can be difficult and expensive to roll out across multiple sites.

Even more than the cost, many companies come to disdain the hassle of having a new on-premises device in every building. Not only does this require a small army of employees to follow retention and other protocols across all the different locations, but it also adds time and requires more personnel when it comes to servicing, updating, and generally managing the system.

And in each location, the organization will now have an additional point of failure. This issue is magnified by the fact that the segmented nature of the various DVR and NVR devices requires that they all be monitored separately if you want them to be protected against cyber threats.

While conventional video systems may be adequate for home security and certain organizations or use cases, modern enterprises should keep these NVR/DVR myths and challenges in mind as they make forward-looking decisions about their video surveillance systems.

Want to learn more about the future of enterprise video surveillance? Check out our latest eBook, which explores why security professionals are shifting away from traditional NVR/DVR surveillance systems to hybrid cloud solutions.

Verkada Wins Big with Schools and Businesses – San Francisco Business Times

Published on Verkada.com with permission of – contributing author at San Francisco Business Times (SFBT). See the original article here. Opinions expressed by SFBT authors are their own.

For Verkada co-founder and CEO Filip Kaliszan, building a company focused on physical security and data protection stems from a void he saw in the market. Kaliszan came up with a smart security camera system geared toward businesses and schools, which combines state-of-the-art video technology with its cloud-based software.

“There are a ton of companies that sell connected devices for your home or business that can collect data, but they are very antiquated in their approach,” he said.

Verkada differs from traditional security camera companies in the way it stores its data and how video footage can be reviewed, Kaliszan said. One difference is the accessibility of live video streams, which can be viewed by multiple people during a crisis, he said.

“We think of [our product] as moving from after-the-fact-devices where when something bad happens, you look at the footage and investigate,” Kaliszan said. “We’re bringing in a real-time solution where you can make sense of the [feed] as something is happening so that you can alert the right people.” The cameras, which can be installed globally across multiple office buildings, can be accessed from anywhere via an internet connection or a smartphone.

 Moreover, the data security of customers’ video recording is paramount, said Kaliszan. In the past decade, most security cameras have been connected to an internet network, “but in just the last two-three years, a lot of focus has turned to how data is secured.”

Verkada user’s video recordings are encrypted “end to end,” which is especially important to schools and hospitals “where they really care about the private information they are capturing,” he said. The company also does not have access to any of its customers’ footage, he noted. All of the data is stored in the cloud.

Verkada’s product only launched publicly less than a year ago, but in the past six months, the company has increased its client count from 20 to more than 300. Kaliszan added that Verkada no longer plans to raise funds as its revenue is expected to continue to increase.

The company makes money by selling the cameras and its software as a service. Its clients include Hilton Hotels, Equinox, Netflix, Morgan Hill Unified School District and Yuma School District, among others.

With Verkada, we’re bringing our security systems out of that archaic age of DVRs,” said Jim Carrillo, director of technology at Morgan Hill Unified School District. “After seeing the video quality and how easy it was to set up, that’s when I realized this was a solution that could work for us. Being able to manage our devices remotely saves us time and resources.”

Kaliszan said the company has already been surprised by the ways that the clients have used the system. In schools, for example, principals and teachers have been using the system “to investigate student altercations.” For large retail customers, managers have been using it as a training tool to show an accelerated time lapse to see where the busy areas are,” he said.

“Our customers are expanding the product’s capabilities in all of these interesting use cases.”



Learn from your customers:
 “I’m always amazed by what you can learn,” said Kaliszan. “You study the market and come up with a solution, but when you see what they are doing with it in real life situations, that drives the next level of renovations.”

Product execution is crucial: “Doing things right and making sure that the experience works right out of the box has driven our early success,” he said. “In the early days of a startup, it’s crucial how seamlessly the product works and tackles the customer’s needs.”

Communication among the team is key: “We think a lot about how you structure your company internally, the company team and the culture,” said Kaliszan. “In my mind, it’s all about excellent communication, experience and candor. You can’t arrive at innovation, you can’t build an awesome product without it.”

Want to learn more about Verkada’s hybrid cloud solution? Attend a 15-minute live demo today.