“Knowing that this high-quality system is in our schools gives our district greater peace of mind.”
David Rodriguez, Director of IT, Kiona-Benton City School District
The Kiona-Benton City School District, located in Benton City, Washington comprises two school campuses—one high school and one joint middle and elementary school—serving 1,400 students. The district prioritizes projects and programs that place a heavy emphasis on education, employment and independent living. Consequently, physical security took a back seat to these other initiatives. While the district high school had a working surveillance system, the elementary/middle school had an inoperative and outdated system that hadn’t functioned in over three years.
The Kiona-Benton City School District team struggled with the rapidly-evolving technology of advanced security systems. The team admits that the system should have been fixed years ago. But because the necessary overhauls were such a massive endeavor, the project wasn’t addressed proactively. After a security-related incident during the school year, the district was forced to address the problem. Upon examining the infrastructure in place, which involved a traditional NVR, the team recognized the need for a different approach.
David Rodriguez, the Director of Information Technology at Kiona-Benton City School District, was tasked with finding a security system and solution.
Although the system at the high school was operative, the legacy technology still prevented the Kiona-Benton City School District from having complete confidence in its campus surveillance and hindered its ability to take proactive security measures. When it came to getting a functional security solution into the middle/elementary school, David knew that using the same type of system that the high school had in place wasn’t feasible because the entire system would likely need to be replaced in a few years. He says, “It didn’t make sense to ‘solve the problem’ [of putting up the cameras in the elementary school] by replicating a dated solution and infrastructure.”
Limited Team Bandwidth and Resources
David and his small team were short on time and resources. Many solutions required significant upfront costs, of both time and capital, in order to install and regularly maintain the new systems. He acknowledges, “We’re a team of two. So, we had to ask ourselves what could we afford and logistically own.” With just two people on the team at the time, David wanted to be sensitive to their limitations to install the new solution, but also acknowledge the challenges that would be encountered with maintenance in the future.
Lack of Flexibility
“There were several grey areas and blind spots that we couldn’t actively monitor because our NVR made deploying cameras in those locations impossible.”
The Kiona-Benton City School District didn’t have the infrastructure in place to support full coverage on school campuses. The system was previously run with an NVR, but the central location of the NVR limited the locations in which cameras could be deployed.
Poor Image Quality
The legacy cameras at the high school had about 1.6 megapixels each. David recalls, “There was an instance where we pulled up footage, but the quality was so poor that it wasn’t usable.” The poor quality imposed limits on what administrators could track and understand about concerning situations.
David and his team needed something that would help them overcome the limitations of their old NVR system and allow for the district to scale the school’s surveillance system.
When one of the district administrators recommended Verkada, David felt attracted to the easy installation and intuitive user interface. After deploying their first cameras, the team was so satisfied with the solution that they added over 30 more cameras.
“We needed something that was easy to set up. Verkada gave us the ability to take the camera out of the box, and with very little effort, have it installed and connected with the software. There’s a lot of freedom in what we could do with the cameras.”
Simple, Versatile Installation
In a single summer, the team of two deployed all of the cameras across both schools. The ability to reconfigure their system as needed makes it possible for the Kiona-Benton City School District to scale its security system as needed in the future.
Because there aren’t many infrastructural requirements for installation, the team can create strategies around deployment, location and setup. All they need is a single power-over Ethernet (POE) cord.
High-Quality Software Without Bandwidth or Storage Limitations
Verkada’s software is cloud-based and it compresses the files, so David and his team didn’t have to worry about storage limitations. He reports that, “It brought us up to speed with technology. We were able to get a high-quality video security system that works without additional infrastructure requirements. We push the videos to the cloud at night, so it doesn’t take bandwidth away from the school,” Additionally, the flexibility of pushing videos to the cloud frees up the school networks, so students and faculty can still use the Internet at optimal speeds.
Practicality and Easy Maintenance
Installation wasn’t the only factor for the Kiona-Benton City School District. Maintenance and practicality were also two major concerns. Although David’s team has now grown to three people, if an emergency were to occur with the old system, the team would still be largely responsible for monitoring the cameras, going to the location, extracting the footage and sharing the footage with local authorities. In situations where time is critical, efficiency plays an enormous role in protecting physical safety.
“With Verkada, in the case of an incident, you can provide a link to the local sheriff’s department. There’s a live stream, so they can monitor what’s going on. The ability to give them instant access is a huge weight off our shoulders,” affirms David. In one incident, campus administrators were able to track a situation completely, around the perimeter of a building, simply by pulling up views of all the cameras on the Verkada interface.
“[The Verkada solution] is so adaptable. The primary goal is, of course, safety. But there are more creative ways to use the cameras and the software. For instance, we’re thinking about embedding and streaming basketball and volleyball games to our school’s Facebook page.”
Implementing the Verkada security system has brought the Kiona-Benton City School District up to speed with technology. It empowers the team to be proactive about issues concerning the safety of its campuses and students. David also notes that his team already plans to get creative by exploring other potential uses for their new surveillance system, which will provide more value for faculty, students and their families.