The Cheapest School District Ever?

By IPVM Team, Published on Sep 16, 2013

Many complain about local governments picking cheap surveillance solutions. Well, it does not get any cheaper than this. Used iPhones, iPods and iPads watch over the halls and entry points of Arizona's Miami School District. The devices have been in place for three weeks, and there are plans to expand the network, and the school has not spent a dime on them. We talked to the superintendent about how they decided that iPhones were more cost effective than traditional surveillance.

Background

Earlier this year, when the administration started talking about how it would add surveillance to its five schools, it was a little bit overwhelming, says Superintendent Sherry Dorathy. “We had no money to invest in a system like that ... One of our principals found out about the Presence [link no longer available] iOS app and he contacted Mr. Moss [the CTO of People Power, the company that created Presence] and he contacted me.” People Power provided the school with a free subscription to the app.

An iPad at the front door is used to watch people coming in an out of one school. Another iPad watches a cafeteria. In this screenshot from a CBS 5 broadcast, an old iPod monitors the hallways:

Presence App

The Presence Pro iOS app was created and funded by the company People Power, using IndieGogo. CBS reported that Miami is the first district in the nation to use the solution:

A closer look at the control interface:


Donated Surveillance

The district has no plans to purchase used iOS devices for the system. Instead, they are asking the public to donate old ones. The system started with five devices and will expand as they are received.

“Once we got approved by the board to do so, we started advertising: We have it on our website and out in the public and our community that if someone has an iPad, iPod or iPhone to donate, they should. This project is dependent on people donating them,” said Dorathy. With the recent announcement of two new iPhones, Dorathy hopes people will think of the school when deciding to upgrade.

System Limitations

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

Such a system is a better fit for home monitoring rather multiple sites across a school district.

"Your old phones have much more capability in them than even some of the best security cameras [link no longer available] and WiFi cameras on the market," Moss told the local TV station in a recent broadcast. However, here are some limitations that immediately stand out: 

No Low-light Capability

Once the lights go off, you lose your view. Apple devices are not comparable to surveillance cameras when it comes to low light imaging. They are unlikely to be able to capture usable images for anything that happens at night or when the lights in the building are turned off.

Limited Field of View

The field of view for these devices is fixed with no ability to adjust it for the scene. The same field of view in the cafeteria is going to be the same one they have for the hallways or classrooms. 

No WDR

Cameras in Apple devices automatically adjust the lighting for whatever section of a scene the camera is focused on, which should not change if the camera is stationary, but could prove unhelpful when light varies dramatically over or underexposing other parts of the image. For example, at the high school, there is an iPad mounted to watch people who come in and out the front door of the building. The person is likely to be in focus while the lit parking lot behind them is overexposed. 

Limited Storage

A Presence Pro subscription only comes with 2GB of cloud storage for storing motion alerts. The school district says it downloads video daily and "store it for as long as we want." At this time there are no defined storage limits. That may not be an issue now, with only five devices, but will be an issue as the network expands to many more devices at four additional schools. 

Bandwidth

"Our IT department is monitoring the system for a while to see what usage is taken up by the devices ... At this time we are not concerned about the bandwidth being used. For districts with a small bandwidth this may be an issue, but we are good," Dorathy said.

However, scaling up potentially dozens of cameras over wireless networks could easily saturate them. 

Power

Devices must be plugged in to provide constant power as smartphone camera eat up battery power quickly. This solution may not be ideal for all schools because most places probably do not have power outlets at the top of their walls. In the case of this district, the cameras were mounted in locations that formerly held TVs, allowing them to use existing power outlets.

Motion Detection

The cameras switch from live-viewing/recording to motion detection after hours. One of Presence Pro’s claims is reduced false alerts and sensitivity control for motion detection, but it is unclear how the feature works. 

Tampering

The school says it is aware of the novelty of Apple devices and has them mounted high enough that students cannot reach them to tamper with or steal. Others are places behind glass. "A six foot person would still have to climb on a ladder to access the devices," Dorathy says. 

Future Plans

The school district says it is happy with the results so far,and the feedback from the community has been positive. "We are reaching 'outside of the box' so to speak to answer a problem in an innovative way while being very conscientious of the tax payers dollars." Miami school district would like to eventually expand the network to its buses. 

Analysis

The school wanted surveillance for cheap, and they got it. They are building a network for almost nothing but the value may not be much more than that.

Comments (25) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Cheap Camera Problems at Night on Feb 19, 2020
Cheap cameras generally have problems at night, despite the common perception...
CDW Sells School District 36 Low-Res, No Blackbody Hikvision Fever Cameras With Federal Funds on Oct 01, 2020
Mega IT distributor CDW sold low-resolution Hikvision fever cameras with no...
IPVM's 12th Anniversary - Thank You! on Apr 07, 2020
IPVM is proud to celebrate it's 12 anniversary expanding our commitment to...
Access Control and Video Integration Statistics 2020 on Oct 08, 2020
Video Surveillance and Access Control are two of the most common security...
Free IPVM All Access - Concluded! on Mar 18, 2020
The 2-day event has concluded. Thanks to everyone who accessed the IPVM...
2020 Video Surveillance Cameras State Of The Market on Jan 03, 2020
Each year, IPVM explains the main advances and changes for video surveillance...
Top Video Surveillance Service Call Problems 2020 on Oct 23, 2020
3 primary and 4 secondary issues stood out as causing the most problems when...
TVT / InVid Facial Recognition Tested on Mar 25, 2020
Facial recognition is frequently sold for thousands of dollars per channel...
Nokia Fever Screening Claims To "Advance Fight Against COVID-19" on Oct 22, 2020
First IBM, then briefly Clorox, and now Nokia becomes the latest Fortune 500...
Free IPVM Memberships For The Unemployed on Apr 02, 2020
IPVM is giving 3-month free memberships (regular price $99) for the...
School District Admits Not Following FDA Guidelines With 144, No Blackbody, Hikvision Fever Cameras on Aug 21, 2020
The Baldwin County School District has admitted it is not following FDA...
ButterflyMX Raises $35 Million on Sep 30, 2020
Startup ButterflyMX has raised $35 million for its smartphone based intercom...
Taiwan Lilin NDAA Compliant Cameras Tested on Aug 13, 2020
Taiwan-based manufacturer Lilin is taking direct aim at Dahua and Hikvision...
K3 Wall Mounted IR Temperature Gun Tested on Jun 12, 2020
Is this the solution to not spending thousands of dollars on fever...
Dartmouth College Deploys K3 Temperature Screening on Sep 29, 2020
While Dartmouth College has a $6+ billion endowment, the College has bought...

Recent Reports

ISC Brasil Digital Experience 2020 Report on Oct 23, 2020
ISC Brasil 2020 rebranded itself to ISC Digital Experience and, like its...
Top Video Surveillance Service Call Problems 2020 on Oct 23, 2020
3 primary and 4 secondary issues stood out as causing the most problems when...
GDPR Impact On Temperature / Fever Screening Explained on Oct 22, 2020
What impact does GDPR have on temperature screening? Do you risk a GDPR fine...
Security And Safety Things (S&ST) Tested on Oct 22, 2020
S&ST, a Bosch spinout, is spending tens of millions of dollars aiming to...
Nokia Fever Screening Claims To "Advance Fight Against COVID-19" on Oct 22, 2020
First IBM, then briefly Clorox, and now Nokia becomes the latest Fortune 500...
Deceptive Meridian Temperature Tablets Endanger Public Safety on Oct 21, 2020
IPVM's testing of and investigation into Meridian Kiosk's temperature...
Honeywell 30 Series and Vivotek NVRs Tested on Oct 21, 2020
The NDAA ban has driven many users to look for low-cost NVRs not made by...
Ubiquiti Access Control Tested on Oct 21, 2020
Ubiquiti has become one of the most widely used wireless and switch providers...
Avigilon Aggressive Trade-In Program Takes Aim At Competitors on Oct 20, 2020
Avigilon has launched one of the most aggressive trade-in programs the video...
Mexico Video Surveillance Market Overview 2020 on Oct 20, 2020
Despite being neighbors, there are key differences between the U.S. and...
Dahua Revenue Grows But Profits Down, Cause Unclear on Oct 20, 2020
While Dahua's overall revenue was up more than 12% in Q3 2020, a significant...
Illegal Hikvision Fever Screening Touted In Australia, Government Investigating, Temperature References Deleted on Oct 20, 2020
The Australian government told IPVM that they are investigating a Hikvision...
Panasonic Presents i-PRO Cameras and Video Analytics on Oct 19, 2020
Panasonic i-PRO presented its X-Series cameras and AI video analytics at the...
Augmented Reality (AR) Cameras From Hikvision and Dahua Examined on Oct 19, 2020
Hikvision, Dahua, and other China companies are marketing augmented reality...
18 TB Video Surveillance Drives (WD and Seagate) on Oct 19, 2020
Both Seagate and Western Digital recently announced 18TB hard drives...