Sexual Assault at School, Faulty Cameras Cited

Author: Carlton Purvis, Published on Nov 27, 2013

After a female student was carried to an empty room and sexually assaulted, a local TV station reported that the cameras were not working during the time of the incident. A Kansas City Public Schools spokesman later confirmed the cameras were broken and that they were not fixed until the day after the incident.

In this note, we share our findings from speaking with the school and the integrator about what happened with the cameras and how they impacted this case.

The System and Its Role

The system costed nearly $1 million and includes Panasonic cameras and SmartVue NVRs.

******** ** **** *** **** ***** *******, ***** **** ** cameras ********** ** ****** **** ***** **** ******** **** *********** to *** ****, ********* ** *** **********. *******, ** ***** not ****** ****.

**** ** *** ***** ******* *****:

Problems **** *** ******
*** ******** **** *** ********’* ****** ******* **** ******* **** fixes, ********* ** ****** ******, ********* ** 
*** ********** *******, *** ********* **** ***** ** ********** *******. 

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“* ***’* ***** *** ** ***** *** *********** ******* ***** *** * ******. *** ********** ** **** [Kansas **** ****** *******] ** **** ** **** ****,” ****** said.

*** ******* ** ********* ***** ******* ******, *** ****** ***** the ****** ******* ********, *** ****** ** *** ********’* *** IT **********, ********* ** *** **********.  

***** * ******* ****** **** ***, *** ***** *** ******.

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*** ******’* ******** ******** **** ** ******’* *** * **** of *** ***** *** ****. *** ******* ********* *** *********** for ****** ****. *** ********* ** ** ***** **** ** ACS *** *** ****** *** ****** *******:

**** *** ******* *** *** ** ** *** ******, **** found **** ** ********** *** ******* *** "**** *********." *** cameras **** ***********, *** *** **** ****’* ***** ***** ** was ******** ** **.

Bad ************* ******* ****** *** **********

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*******, *** **** *** ****** ***'* *********** **** *** ***** story *** **** **************** **** **** **** ** ************ ** *** **** ** *** ********, ***** had ** ****** ** ******* ********* *********** ************* **** *** about *********** ********. 

*** ****** *****'* **** ****. **** *** **** ****** *** could **** * ******* ** *** ** *** **** *** the ********** ** ********** ********, *** ***** **** ******* ****** contacting *** **** ******* ********* *******, *** ******** ********* ********.

“** *** **** ****** ************ ******* ** ** *** ******* and ************* **** *********** ** ****** ** ** *** **** *******,” *** ******** spokesman ****. “** **** *** ******* *****’* ******* * **** or *** ***** ** ****. ** **** ******* **** ***, we **** ******’* *** ** ****** ** **** ******.” 

*** ********** **** **** **** ******* *** ****** ****, *** even **** ***** ******** ***** **** ***** **** ****** ********. “We **** ********** **** **** **** **** **** *** ******** director *** ** ******* *** ******* ********. ** ***** *** an ***** **** *** ** *** ** ****** *** ** would **** ** *** ***** *** **** *** ****** *** was ******** ** ******* **, *** ******** ********,” ** ****. “The ******** ******** ***** **** ** *** ***** *** *** ‘Let ** ***** ** ****’ *** ** ***** ****. *** then ** ***** *** ******* ***** **** *** ********* **’* **** ***** *** *** ******** ***** *** ‘**, I’m ***** ******* ** ****.’ ** ** ***’* *** ******** by *** ******** ******** *** *** ****, **** ** ***’* get ****.”

Communication **** ***********

*** ****** ******** *** *** *** * ******* ***** **** ***** agreed ** ** **** ** ********** *************. *** ******** *** designated ***** ****** *** ***** ** ********** ******* *** *** maintenance ********. *** ********** * ****** ****** ** ** *** point ** ******* *** *** ******.

**** **** **** ** **** * ****** ****** ** ********** requests *** ******* ******** *****. * *** ********* ******* ****** City ****** ******* **** ******** *** ******** ******* **** ** responded ** ****** ** *****, ******** *** *** ****-*********** ******* must **** * ******** ****** ***** **** *** *** ***-******** repairs **** **** **** *** * ******** ********** **** ** get **** *****.

*** ******** ***** ** ****** ** **-***** ******** *** ******* who *** **** **** ** *** ************ ******* ***. *** now *** **** ** ******* ***** ****** ************* **** ** email. ** **** *** ****** *** ********** ******** * $** per ***** ****** ****** ********** *******. 

Contract *******

*** ********’* ******** ** ** *** ******* ** ********. *** school ******** ** *** **** *** *** ******** ***** **** like ******* ** ** ***** ***** ****** ***, *** **** it ***** ****** ******* **** ******* ** *********** **********. 

IPVM ***************

***** **** *** *** ********* *** ******** ****** ** **** case, **** ***** ********** *** ***********:

**** ***********, ****** *** ***** ****** ****** **** **** * clear ******** ********* ********* **** ***, ** ** **** * few ******* ***********, ********* *** ******** ****** **** ** **********. By ********, ****** **** ** ****** ****** ******** ************ *** cause ********. 

* *********** **** **** ******* *** ******* ** ** ****** fee ****** **** ****** ** ******* ***** ***** ********* (** it ******** ****) ***** **** ********* ********** *** *********** ******* as ** ********** *** **** ** ******** ******** ** ****** payment. *** *** ******* / *********** ********* *****

*********** **** ****** ** **** **** ********** *** ********** ********* (like ***** *** ********** *********). **** *** ** ********* ** coordinate *** ****** ****** ** ****** (*.*., **** ***** ******* **** *****).

*******, **** **** ***** *** *********** **** ******** **** **** ** *******?

Comments (16)

In my expert opinion, being an installer of many years, and having done troubleshooting on countless systems, large and small, I hereby diagnose the root cause of this system's many problems as "defective customer".

14 people have the ability to call the installer, but only one person has the ability to authorize work, and that person is unresponsive and slow to approve work. The customer refuses to pay an extemely reasonable rate for system monitoring. IT doesn't talk to Security but Security is relying on IT because the cameras go over IT's network. IT has the keys to the server room. IT sometimes changes ports without telling anyone. Surveillance equipment grows legs and wanders off on its own sometimes.

If I was ACS, I'd think seriously about severing my relationship with the school district. Hopefully their service contract term is up soon, so they can jack up their rate to something insultingly high, making the district shop for another installer to do maintenance for them (price is obviously very, very important to them, they can't even afford $25 a month to monitor system health).

Sometimes you have to look at your most disfunctional customers and evaluate whether or not they're worth it. And, based on what I'm reading here (which is, of course, incomplete information by necessity), this district is not worth it.

Ari, great points. The thing that is likely hard here is that the school district is likely a big customer for them, so walking away would likely cause problems for their business. Maybe the business is not the most profitable, maybe it's a headache but dropping it might force them to lay techs off or scramble to get replacement business, etc. Yes/no?

Well, that's the calculation they've got to do. Too many people think "big customer" simply means "impressive sounding customer" when it actually means "profitable or potentially profitable customer". Sometimes, an overly demanding customer pushes themselves into the unprofitability zone, and that's not a great place to be. If you're losing an unreasonable amount of money without hope of recoupment, those techs are going to be out of work sooner or later anyway, when the company goes out of business.

This is a classic situation for edge (SD Cards) storage to be invaluable. As long as the camera has power, it records video. Whatever the root cause -uncooperative IT group, poor contract management, or unresponsive integrator- events like this still have a shot at being recorded.

"14 people have the ability to call the installer, but only one person has the ability to authorize work, and that person is unresponsive and slow to approve work."

Wow, that's painfully familiar. Try this on for size: call from "building services" comes in for a site, tech attends and diagnoses, quote for repair is sent back to "building services"... two months later, quote still hasn't been approved, site is flipping out, complaining to "building services", and "building services" is calling us asking why the work hasn't been done.

In this case, I think I really have to side with the integrator - lack of access and difficulty obtaining it is all too common. We run into it all the time on sites - some, they leave the office open all the time; others, the manager is the ONLY one with access and is there limited hours on limited days, and even getting ahold of him/her to schedule access is a nightmare. Fortunately most of ours are a lot more understanding when it comes to having to work around THEIR schedules...

"This is a classic situation for edge (SD Cards) storage to be invaluable."

SD card recording would have been nice, but would the school have paid the extra expense buying them if they won't pay $25 a month for system monitoring.

I'd also be curious as to how the bid was done for this system. Did they aquire the services of a professional, unbiased consultant to lead them throough everything they would need? Was long term service a requirement, or listed as an "option"? Was it lowest bid price wins period, or was it lowest cost for best proposed system using weighted factors?

This is a good point. However, School Districts are typically much more open to a 'one time' equipment cost (SD Cards) than an ongoing, month-to-month contract for something a purchasing agent/accounting department misunderstands the value of having.

We have installed thousands of ip cameras in hundreds of schools and can not recall very many situations where cameras had to be reset. The only time I can recall an issue was when someone accidently looped a patch cable on a switch that effected the security vlan for half the district. Sounds like most of the problem here is a really bad it department and district network. We learned by experience that, when possible, grab unused fibers from mdf/idf locations instead of relying on customer switches and network. Poe switches with fiber modules are less than 500 dollars per closet.

The inherited problem of IP cam system.

With Analog or HD-SDI cam, there is no need for IT department to be in involved in security system.

No need to reset cameras ever.

Yeah, because DVRs connect to the internet via unicorn farts and good intentions.

Enlight me please, in this particular case, why do they need internet?

The video from cameras would have been recorded in local DVR HDDs.

Every multicampus system I've ever worked on has required internet access so someone in an office somewhere can watch all the DVRs at once- probably the security director guy who takes forever to approve work- but I am of course willing to admit to the possibility that this might not have been the case here.

And the second you put the DVR online, IT comes down and goes THAT NETWORK IS MINE I'LL SHOW YOU WHO IS IN CHARGE OF INTERNET ACCESS AROUND HERE OOPS LOOKS LIKE I ACCIDENTALLY UPLUGGED THAT ROUTER I'LL GET AROUND TO RESETTING IT NEXT WEEK

Thanks! I guess the parents of the students are also interested in this ugly side of business.

But anyhow, the video can still be kept in local HDDs w/o Internet.

With analog or HD-SDI, there's no need for the IT department to be involved in connecting cameras to recorders.

On the other, then there is a need to run dedicated cabling / infrastructure for the cameras and recorders. This is one of the most common reasons schools chose IP. They already have IP networks built out reaching most parts of the building / campus and can leverage that.

Ah yes, one of the last remaining anti-IP myths is trotted out again.

There's no NEED for the IT department to be involved in the security system even WITH an all-IP system. Ideally, the surveillance network should be completely separate from the rest of the infrastructure anyway, with only a tie-in to provide remote or internet access as necessary.

If it IS using existing (aka "someone else's") infrastructure, that's usually done for cost reasons, for convenience, or so someone higher up can keep their fingers in the pie... but THAT is where the failing lies, NOT in the choice of transport media.

As for why they may need an internet connection to the DVR/NVR/VMS... remote support is a primary reason. I can save clients hundreds of dollars on service calls (probably even thousands, in some cases, especially where out-of-town sites are involved) if I can remote in to troubleshoot, apply software updates, tweak settings, or remote power-cycle cameras (an additional benefit of IP cameras, BTW, when coupled with managed PoE switches).

"No need to reset cameras ever." - Hahahah, that's rich. There are any number of minor glitches that can be fixed with a quick power cycle; this has been the case since long before IP cameras became popular.

That's actually true. A network failure would not have taken out the DVR. Although with a system this screwed up, I'd wouldn't exactly be shocked if I went to the DVR to download the video and someone informed me that it stopped recording sometime back in August and they sent a request to the security office, they really had, they just can't understand why no one had ever gotten back to them...

This is a job where cameras blink out mysteriously and equipment just plain disappears. A job this disfunctional is going to have multiple critical equipment failure no matter what the technology- IP, DVRs, VCRs, alien technology powered by Kryptonite. The technology isn't defective, the customer is.

Just my two cents.

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