Chartwell School is a private nonprofit located at the heart of Seaside, CA. Their mission is to empower K-12 students with dyslexia and other language-based learning differences by providing them with the knowledge, creativity, and life skills to thrive in higher education.
As the Director of Information Technology and Campus Management, John Langrill is in charge of Chartwell’s facilities and IT strategy, including the evaluation and implementation of technology systems and infrastructure. “Anything that runs on electricity is under my responsibilities.”
“Our previous system required manual updates every week, and we’d have to watch through hours of recordings just to pull footage from one machine. We needed a way to detect and prevent smoking in the private lockable bathrooms of our new building, while protecting student privacy.”
Langrill inherited an 11-year old security system that consisted of analog pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras connected to a backend digital video recorder (DVR). As construction wrapped on the new school building, it became apparent that a more scalable solution was needed. To ensure faster incident response and enhance campus safety, Langrill looked for a modern solution that combines video surveillance, access control, and sensor technology onto one platform. With recent studies proving significant cross-sectional association between e-cigarette use and depression, Langrill also sought a way to protect students from the health consequences of novel tobacco products while monitoring environmental conditions in real-time.
“We use the SV11 to detect and prevent vaping in bathrooms, so we do our part in making sure our students stay healthy. The purpose of the sensors is to start the conversation around smoking with students who may be experimenting so they understand the impact it has on their well-being—both physical and mental.”
With Verkada, Langrill has an integrated solution that streamlines all physical security management onto one cloud-based software platform. The SV11 environmental sensor not only detects smoking (inclusive of THC, cigarette, and vape emissions), but also indoor air quality, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, abnormal noise levels (indicative of bullying), as well as temperature and humidity to prevent damage to sensitive equipment. Langrill has set custom alerts for each variable to be notified if readings fall out of range, enabling him to maintain high health and safety standards for staff and students.
Real-Time Environmental Monitoring
“The sensors were up for three days before I received my first text alert that someone was vaping in the bathroom. We now have a camera that overlooks the main corridor outside the bathrooms, so when vape smoke is detected we have immediate video context into the situation.”
Through Command, Verkada’s cloud-based software platform, Langrill easily manages all cameras and sensors across school facilities. With a unified approach to building security, he has drastically reduced the workload and time it takes to resolve incidents. Sensors and cameras work seamlessly together to paint a clear picture of specific events, and he can quickly jump to review incidents in a single click.
“Having an all-in-one system like Verkada means I can centrally access cameras and sensors on one platform. If I receive a sensor alert, I can quickly access that data and the corresponding video footage without having to leave Command.”
In the event that smoking or vaping is detected, Langrill receives an SMS notification straight to his mobile device. From there, he is able to click into Command to view the event—along with its corresponding video footage—and save it to unlimited cloud-based archiving. “In seconds, I’m able to investigate the incident, save footage to address later, and share it with select administrators if needed.”
Motion-Based Search and Alerts
“I’m able to get very granular with motion alerts. I limit motion detection to certain hours (after school), and specific areas (such as doors). The level of customization we have with these motion grids has reduced our false-positives by over 50%.”
With his previous system, Langrill received false-positive calls whenever any motion was detected in-frame. “I would get phone calls in the middle of the night from our alarm security vendor. When I asked them to check the cameras, we would find that the alert was triggered in the distance by a wild animal.” With Verkada, Langrill is able to select a region of interest within a camera’s field of view. This level of granularity helps ensure that he is only notified of meaningful incidents, instead of every instance of movement caught on camera.
Mobile Functionality for 96% Faster Resolutions
“Pulling footage with the mobile app is easy. It’s as simple as choosing the camera and swiping through the timeline, which highlights any meaningful events so I can quickly find what I need. By taking out the guesswork, we’ve reduced our incident response time from hours to five minutes.”
Through the Command mobile app, Langrill remotely manages all devices across campus at scale. Motion events are highlighted in a timeline view, so he can quickly find meaningful events in a quick swipe. With intelligent search functions, he is able to filter through footage by people, vehicles, and motion. Designed with the end user in mind, the Command app is rated as the most user-friendly mobile application for any video security system. “With the app, I’m able to check and resolve any issues from afar. It’s fast, responsive, and intuitive.”
Looking Ahead: Live Air Quality Monitoring
“As we prepare for the return-to-school and fire season, Verkada provides us with peace of mind and assurance that our students stay safe and healthy, the air is well-filtered, and our purification system is working as expected.”
With the California wildfire season approaching, Langrill is starting to use the SV11 for indoor air quality monitoring. “We were relying on the general Air Quality Index on the official website, but now that we have Verkada, I can simply open a door and get a more accurate reading.” He has two to three air purifiers deployed in each classroom along with heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units to filter out contaminants, and plans to use the SV11 to accurately assess when to change out HVAC filters.
“With the SV11, we have a proxy to know when to replace our air filters. Instead of changing them arbitrarily every six months, we can check PM and air quality readings to know exactly when it’s needed – whether that’s two months or eight months later. I’m looking forward to seeing how much time and money this will save us down the line.”
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