School Video Surveillance Guide

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on May 26, 2015

This 13-page in-depth guide explains the key uses, drivers, factors and players in K-12 school video surveillance systems.

A global group of 80 integrators experienced in selling and implementing education surveillance systems answered these questions.

Questions Answered

(1) Camera Locations

Where are the most important locations to deploy cameras? How do they differ, if any, from primary schools to middle schools to high schools?

(2) Classroom Cameras

How often do you deploy cameras inside of classrooms? Why or why not?

(3) Cameras Used

What camera manufacturers do you use most often in K-12? What, if any camera manufacturers, do schools tend to favor?

(4) VMSes Used

What VMS / recorder do you use most often in K-12? What, if any VMS / recorders, do schools tend to favor?

(5) Cost Considerations

How important is low cost for the schools you deal with? Please share any examples of rough pricing for schools (e.g., 50 cameras, $50,000 total cost). 

(6) Buying Decision Maker

Who typically makes the purchasing decision in K-12? IT? Security? Facilities? Other?

(7) Integration

How often is the school surveillance system integrated with access, intrusion or fire? Why or why not do schools choose to do this?

(8) Remote Access

How often is remote access provided for school employees or for the police? How is this typically done?

(9) Biggest Problem

What is the biggest problem you have in your school surveillance projects?

Inside we examine each response in depth and provide the key findings their insights revealed about how the K-12 vertical buys and uses video surveillance. 

**** **-**** **-***** ***** ******** *** *** ****, *******, ******* and ******* ** *-** ****** ***** ************ *******.

* ****** ***** ** ** *********** *********** ** ******* *** implementing ********* ************ ******* ******** ***** *********.

Questions ********

(*) ****** *********

***** *** *** **** ********* ********* ** ****** *******? *** ** they ******, ** ***, **** ******* ******* ** ****** ******* to **** *******?

(*) ********* *******

*** ***** ** *** ****** ******* ****** ** **********? *** or *** ***?

(*) ******* ****

**** ****** ************* ** *** *** **** ***** ** *-**? What, ** *** ****** *************, ** ******* **** ** *****?

(*) ***** ****

**** *** / ******** ** *** *** **** ***** ** K-12? ****, ** *** *** / *********, ** ******* **** to *****?

(*) **** **************

*** ********* ** *** **** *** *** ******* *** **** with? Please ***** *** ******** ** ***** ******* *** ******* (*.*., 50 *******, $**,*** ***** ****). 

(*) ****** ******** *****

*** ********* ***** *** ********** ******** ** *-**? **? ********? Facilities? *****?

(*) ***********

*** ***** ** *** ****** ************ ****** ********** **** ******, intrusion ** ****? *** ** *** *** ** ******* ****** to ** ****?

(*) ****** ******

*** ***** ** ****** ****** ******** *** ****** ********* ** for *** ******? *** ** **** ********* ****?

(*) ******* *******

**** ** *** ******* ******* *** **** ** **** ****** surveillance ********?

****** ** ******* **** ******** ** ***** *** ******* *** *** findings ***** ******** ******** ***** *** *** *-** ******** **** and **** ***** ************. 

[***************]

Key ********

*** ****** ********* **** ******* ****** ***** *-** ************ ***, regardless ** ******, *******, ** ****** ****:

  1. *** **** ********* ********** ********* *** ******* *** ******* *****/*****. In *******, *** ******* ********* ** *** ******** ** * priority, **** ******** '****** *****' **** *********, **********, *** ******** next.
  2. ******* *** '****** ** *****' ********* ** **********.  ******* ******* and ******* ****** *** ***** ** *** **** ****** ********** to *** ********.
  3. ********** ******* ****** *** *** ****** **** ****** ******. **** with ***** *******, ******* ********* ***** ***** '**-****' ******, *** extended ******* *** ******* ** ****** ****** * ***********.
  4. **** ** ***** ** *** *********, *** ****** ** ************ fragmented. *** **** ****-***** ********* **** ***** ******* **** *** time, *** ******-**** ********* ***** **** ********** ******** *** ******** the ***** **** ** *********.
  5. **** ******* *** ****** **********, ***** ***** ** ****** * big ******. *******, **** ******* **** *** * ******* ** avoid ****, **** ** ** ***** ******* ***** **** ************ favor **********, ****-********* ****-*** ******. 
  6. ******* ********* ** ******* * ***** ********, **** ***** ******** by * ****** *****.  ***** *** ******* ** *** ********* teams ****, ** *********** *** ****** ****** ******** ** *** decision-making *******.
  7. ************ ****** *********** **** ***** ******* ******* '******' ** '*****'. The ******** ** ********* ********* *** **** *** ********** ** typically *** ***** *** *** *******.
  8. *********** ****** ****** ** ****** ******, *** ** ********* ******* to ****** *********. ****** ****** ** ****** ** ***** ******* agencies ******* *** ** ********.
  9. *** ******* ******* **** ******* **** **** ***** ************ ******* include: 'budget *******', '******* ******* *********** ************', *** '*** **** ************ in *********'.

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

Camera *********

********: ***** *** *** **** ********* ********* ** ****** *******? *** do **** ****** ** ***, **** ******* ******* ** ****** ******* ** high *******?

*******:  *** **** ********* ********** ********* *** ******* *** ******* *****/*****. In *******, *** ******* ********* ** *** ******** ** * priority, **** ******** '****** *****' **** *********, **********, *** ******** next.

** *******, *** **** ******** ***** ******* *** **** *******.  High ******* ********* **** ****** ****** ****** **** ********** *******. This ** *** ** **** ** ********** ***** **** ******* lots, ******** **********, *** '*********' ********* ******* ********* ******** *****.

************ '*******-**-******* ********' ** * ********** ****** *** ************ ** higher ******, ***** ****** ************** *** ************** ************** ** ******** is the ******* **** *** ***** ******.

*******

  • "*** ***/****-******** ********, ******* ********* *** ***-******** ** *** ********. They *** *** ***** ****** **** >**% ** ****** **** pass *******."
  • "*** **** ********* ****** *** *** ******* ******* *** ***** doors *** *** ******/***** ** *** ********. "
  • "** *** **** ******* ******* **** ******** ****** ** ********/***** while *** ****** *** **** ******* **** ***** ******** ** well."
  • "*** ********* *** *** **** ********* ** *** ******."

****** *****/***********

  • "** ****** *** **** ****** **** ******* *** *****/*****/*****. **** progresses ** *** **** ***** **** *********** *** **** **** start ******* *** ******* ***** *** ****** *******."
  • "**** ********* ****** ** ** ** ****** ***** *** ******** from **** ** *** ****."
  • " ** *** *-** ****** *** ***** ********* *** ******* *** any ********** ** **** ** *** ********* ***** ******** ** outside *** ******."
  • "**********, ** ** *** ********* ********."

********

  • "********. **** ********* ***** ** ******* ******** ** ****** ***** periods."
  • "*********, ******* ******* ** ******/***** ****** ** * *** ************ need."

******* ****

  • "**** ******* *** ****** ********* ***** ******* *** ********. "
  • "****** * *** **: **** ******* ***** ** ******* ****. This ** *** ***** ***** ** ***** *** * *** of ****."
  • "**** ******* - *** ******* **** ** *** ****"
  • "******* ******* ***** *** ***** **** ****** *** ******** *****."

Classroom *******

********: *** ***** ** *** ****** ******* ****** ** **********? Why ** *** ***?

*******: ********** ******* ****** ****** ******* ******* '******' ** '*****', with **** ****** ******* ******* ***** ****** *** ***** ******* as *** **** *******:

*******/***********/******

  • "** ***** ****** ******* ****** **********. *******!"
  • "****** *****. ** **** *********** ******* **."
  • "**** ******. **** ******* ****** **** *** ***** **.
  • "********* ** ** *** ****** ******* ** ********** ******* ** budget."
  • "**** ******. **** ** ** ******** ** ******* ** *** required."
  • "***** **** ***** **** *** ********* *********** ** **** *****. It ** **** ** * ******* *********** ***** **** * student ******* *****. ** * ****** *******, * ***** ******* the ****** ** *** *********, *** ****** *** *****-********** ******** prevent ****."
  • "******* ********* **** ********* ** *******, *** **** *** ******* to *** * ******* ******, *** ********** ********** *** *** on *** **** ** ****** *******."
  • "*** ******* ** *** **** *** ***** *** ******* ** the *******."

*******, ***** **** ** ****** ********** ********* ******* *** ** in ***** **** ***** ****-***** ****** **** ******** **** ** dual-purpose ****** *****.  ******** ** *** ******* ******** *******:

  • "*** **** ********** *** ******** **** *** *********. "
  • "*****, *** ****, ***********, ********** *** ***** ******* ***** *** used ** **** ****** *** ***** ** ****** ** ********** at *****."
  • "** *** *** ******** ***** * ******** ****** **** ****** the ******** ***, *** ** ******* **********."
  • "***** ****** **'* * ******** ********* ** ** **** ******** area (***)."

Camera *************

********: **** ****** ************* ** *** *** **** ***** ** K-12? ****, ** *** ****** *************, ** ******* **** ** favor?

*******: ******* ****** ****** *** ****** ******. ********* ** *** always ***** '****** *****' ************ ***** *********. ******* *** ********* sentiment *** ******:

  • "** ******* ****** ** **** ***** ** ***** *******, ***** becomes * **** ********* ******. *******, *** *** ***** ***** rule ** *****-********** ****." 

** *** ******, **** *** ********* **** ***** (***** **% of *** ******* ********* ****), *** ***** **** ********, *********, and ******* **** ****** ***:

**** 

  • "** **** ** ***** ****. *** ***** ****** *** ******** format ****** **** ****."
  • "**** ** *** ****** *** ** ***, **** ** **** we **** ** *******."
  • "** ********* *** **** *** ******* *********** *** ************* *** the ******."
  • "**** **************. ********* *** *-** *********** ** ******* *** *** longest ******** ******** ** ***** *******."
  • "**** ** *** ****** *** ** ***, **** ** **** we **** ** *******"
  • "** ********* *** **** *** ******* *********** *** ************* *** the ******"

********

  • "******** *** ********* *** ********."
  • "**** ***** ** *** *** ***** ** ********."
  • "**'** *** ** ******** *******, ** ****'* **** **'** **** since"
  • "********, *** [****] ********"

*********

  • "**** *** ****** ********** ** * ********* ****** ** **** have *** ******** *********.
  • "********* **** ***** ********."
  • "*********, **** *** *** **** ****** *** **."

*******

  • "******* ******* *** ** * ****** *** **** ** *** opportunity *** ** ** *** ***, ** **** **** ****** success **** *******."
  • "** **** ** *** **** *** ******* ** ** **** both ** ***** ********* ** ********* ** **** * *** does *** **** ** ****."
  • "**** *** ****** **** *** ****** ** ****** **** *******, but ** *** ******** ** ******* ** ******* *** ******* reasons."

******** ******

*******, **** ********* ********* **** ********* **** ******* ******* **** regularly ***. ***** ********** ******** ****** ********:

  • "*******, *********, *****. ** **** ** **** *********."
  • "*******, *****, ****, *** **** *** *** **** **** ***** seen."
  • "** ********* *** ********* *** **** **** ***** ************* **** as ********* ** *** ******** ** ******* ** *** *** it."
  • "**** *** *******: **% ****, **% *******"
  • "*****, ****, *** *******"
  • "*****, ******* *** *******."
  • "** **** ******** ****, ***** *** ****. *** ******* ** not **** ** **** *** ********* *****."
  • "*** **** *** *** ** **** ***. ** *** ** use *** **** ****** *** *** ***. ********* *** ******* capabilities ** *** ***********."

VMSes ****

********: **** *** / ******** ** *** *** **** ***** in *-**? ****, ** *** *** ** ********* ********* ** ******* tend ** *****? 

*******: *******, ********* ******** ********* ** **** ******* **** ****** brands. ********** ****** **** *********, *****, *******, ******** *** ***, but ** ********** ********** *** ***.  ************, '******-*******' ****** **** Video ******* **** ** ********** **** ***** *********.

  • "*** ******* ** **** **** **** ** **** *********. ********* has ******* ** ***** **** **** *** **** ****** *****."
  • "** ****** *** ******* *** *** ******* **** ** ***** Genetec. ********** ** **** ** ****** *******, *** **** ** having *** *** ******* **** *** ***** ** ******** ** what ***** **."
  • "*********.... ** **** **** * *** ** ******* *** ***** as ****."
  • "*****, *********, ********. * *** ** *** ******* *******."

*****-******* ************ **** **** * ******, ***** ***** ** ***** Exacq:

  • "*****. *** ****** ****** *** ***** *** ** **** * great ***."
  • "**** ** *** *********** **** **** *****. *** ******* ****** here ** **** ** *** ****** ************ *** *****/*** *****."
  • "***** *** **** ****, **'* ***** ************* *** ******."
  • "**** ******* **** ******* **** *** *** ** ***** ** Windows. ***** ** **** *** ****."

*******, ** ** ***** **** *** ********* ******** ** **********, and **** ********* **** **** ******* ***** *******:

  • "** **** * *** ** *********** ** *******."
  • "*** ******* *** ***** ****** *** **** ****** ******* ******."
  • "********* *****-*** ***"
  • "********* ********* *.*"
  • "******* ***, **** ****** ** ** ***."
  • "******* **** ** **** ***."
  • "**** **** *** *********. ******* ***** **** ** ** *** guidance."

Cost **************

********: *** ********* ** *** **** *** *** ******* *** deal ****? ****** ***** *** ******** ** ***** ******* *** schools (*.*., ** *******, $**,*** ***** ****).

*******: **** ******* *** ****** **********, ***** ***** ** ****** a *** ******. *******, **** ******* ********** ***** ** *** always '****'.  ********** ******** ** ****** ****** ***** ** *********** and *********** *****-**** ******* *** *********** *********.

  • "***** **** ** ********* * *******, ** ** *** ****** the ******* *******. * **** ****-*** ******** ***** ** ********** "quality" ***** ************ **** * ****** ** **** ** * viable ***** ********."
  • "*** **** ******** ** *** **** *** *** ** ***** stuff *** ***** **** ****** *** ***** *** **** ** doesn't **** ** *** ******* ******* ** ****. **** **** start ** ** **** ** ***** *** *******. **** *** concerned **** **** ******** ********* **** *** **** *******. *** have ** ** ******** ** *** ** ***** * *****-**** roll *** **** *** **** ********."
  • "** ** *** **** ** *****. ** **** **** *** bid **** *** ** **** ******* ****. ** *** **% of *** **** ** **** ****** **** ** ** ** fix *** ******* ***** **** *** *** **. ********: ***** district ** ** **** ****+ *******. ** **** **** *** by ****** ****. **** **** *** **** ** ****** **** to **** **** * *********** ******. "

*******, **** ****** **** ******* ******* ****** *** *****, *** everyone ******.  ** ****, **** ******* *** ***** ** *** only ****** **** *** ******:

  • "**** ********* *** *** *** ** *** **** ******** **+% of *** ****."
  • "******* **** ** ***** ** **** ** *** #* ******, with *** ********* ** * ***** ***** ****** ***** ** using ***** **** ***** ******* (** ******* **** ** ******* the ****)."
  • "*** **** ** ********."
  • "*'** **** ******* *** **** ***** ***** ********* ******* *** electricians **** *** ** **** ***."
  • "**** ******* **** ** ****** *** ****."
  • "***** **'* ***** ****** ***********, ***** ** ****** **% ***** "normal" ******. ***'* **** ** **** ***** ***** *** ****** ratio, ******* ******* *** ******* ***** *** ******* **** ** this ***** ** *****."

Decision ******

********: *** ********* ***** *** ********** ******** ** *-**? **? Security? **********? *****?

*******: ******* ********* ** ******* * ***** ********, **** ***** approval ** * ****** *****.  ***** *** ******* ** *** selection ***** ****, ** ****** ****** ** ***** ** ** a **** ** *** ********* *****.

********** *** ******

**** ********* ***** **** ****** ********* *** **** ** * gathered ***** ** ************, ********* ************ **** *********** ****** ** the ******:

  • "********** *** **********. ****** ******** ******** *** ********** *** ******** camera *********."
  • "** *** ** * ********** ********, ** ********, ******** ******** or ******** ******* ********* **** *** ********."
  • "** ********** ** **** *** ******** ** **** ** * team ********** ** ********** ******** *** **."
  • "********** *** ** *** *** ****** *****. ** ** *** is ******* **** ********* **** ***** ** ** *** *********/******* views."

***** ********* *** *****

****** ******* ****** **** **** ******* *** ****** ***** ** sign *** ** *** **** ********, *** *** ***** ******* effort *** ******** ***** ** ****** *** ******* ******* **********:

  • "**** *** ****** *** ** *** ****** *****."
  • "******* *** ***** ** ********* *** * *** ** ***** on **** ** *********. **** ****** **** ******* ******* **** are ****** *** ******** ******* *** *****."
  • "****/ ****** ***** ******"
  • "****** ******** *** ***** ********** ****** ***** *******, ****** ********** and ******** ****** ***** ** ****** **** **** ** ** placed.
  • "********* ** ** ************** **** ** **************."

*** ** ********** ** ****** *****

** *** ****, *** ***** ** *****: *** *********** ********** department ** ****** ****** * ***** ** *** ****** *******:

  • "** *** *** *****."
  • "********* *** **** ***** **** ** ******* **** **** ** or ***."
  • "******** *** ** *** ******* ******** ** *** ********."
  • "**********, *** ** ********** ******* ******** *** **** **** *** final ********."

*******, ******* ********* *** ******** **** **** ************ ********* **** down ** *** ******** ** * ****** ******, ********* ** officer ** ****** *******:

  • "*** ********** ***** *** *********."
  • "*** ********** ******** ** *** ********."
  • "**********, ******** **** *** ***** ****."
  • "********* ****** *************** **** *** ***** ****."

***********

********: *** ***** ** *** ****** ************ ****** ********** **** access, ********* ** ****? *** ** *** *** ** ******* choose ** ** ****?

*******: ************ *********** **** ***** ******* ******* '******' ** '*****'. Compatibility *** **** *** *** ******* ********.

  • "******. ******* **** ****** ********** ****** ******* *** **** ***** systems *** *** **, ****'** ******* ******** *** ** ********* sections."
  • "** **** ***** **** ****. * ***** *** **** *** main ****** ** *** **** **** ****** *** ********* *** be **** ****** (** *** *****) ***** ** * ****** environment. **** **** ******* *** ** ***** **** **** ** integration ***** *** ** ****** *********."
  • "** **** *** ** ******** *** ***** *********** **** ***** systems. **** ** *** ******* **** * *** ***** ** different ******* ** ********* ********* ** ** ***** *** ** easy ******* * ***** ******* ** *** ***** *******."
  • "******. *******, ********* **** ****** **** ********* ****** *** ** most *****, ****** ********* **** *** ****** ****. **** ** simpler *** **** ** ****** ** ** ** ***** *****. Sometimes ** ** ********* **** ****** ******* *** ** ** very ****."

**** *********** **** ******, ** **** ***** ******** ****** ******* or ********* ***** *******:

  • "**** ***** **** ****** *******, *** *** ***** ****** ** my *******."
  • "* ***** *** ******* **% ** *** **** *** ************ system ** ********** **** *** ****** ****** ***/** ********* *******."
  • "** *** **** ****** ******. **** ******* **** ** ** able ** **** **** ***** *** ******* **** *** ****** work ******* **** ** ****** ****** ****** ** ***** *********."
  • "**** ***** ** **** **** *** *********, *** *** ****** more ****** ****** ******* ***********. ** ******* *** ******* ******* to *********** ** ****** ******* ** *** **** ** ********* responsibility *** ************* *** ******."

Remote ******

********: *** ***** ** ****** ****** ******** *** ****** ********* or *** *** ******? *** ** **** ********* ****?

*******: *********** ****** ****** ** ****** ******, *** ** ********* limited ** ****** *********. ****** ****** ** ****** ** ***** outside ******** ** *** *******. *** ****** ** ********* *** method ****.

******* *** ***** 

  • "****** (*** ****) ****** ** ********** ** * ****** ***. Mainly ************** *** ******** **************."
  • "****** ****** *** ****** ** *** ********* *****, *** ** is *** *****."
  • "***** ** ***% ** *** **** ****** ****** ** *********.

****** *** ******

  • "*********, ***** *** *** ******! ** ****'* ** ******* ** which ********* *** ******, *** **** ** *** **** *** PD ** *** *** *******."
  • "***** *** ** ***** ********* ** ***** *** ****** ****** access."
  • "****** *** *** ********* ** * ******* ****"
  • "*'** **** ***** ** (*) ********* ****** ****** ****** ** the ****** *** **** **** ****** * "********** ** *************" that ******** ********** ** ***** *** ****** *** **** *****."
  • "**** ******* ******* *** ****** ** **** ****** ******, *** this **** ******* ***** **% ** *** **** *** ** the **** ** ***** *** ****** ** *** ** ******, the ******* *******/******** ********, *** *** ***** ** ****** (****** IP ** ***)."

**** *** ******

** *** ******* ****** ****** ******* *********, **** ****** **** are **** ** **** ***** ***** **** ******* ********:

  • "********* ***** ** ****** ****** *** ****** ************** *** ***."
  • "****** ****** *** ********* ** ******* ***** *** *** ** through * ****** ******."
  • "****** ****** *** ***** ** ****** *** ** *** ******* using * ***** ******, **** ***** * *******."
  • "******* ***** **** ** ****** *** ***** ***** ********** ** typically **** *** * *** ***********."

Biggest *******

********: **** ** *** ******* ******* *** **** ** **** school ************ ********?

*******: ******* *******, *** '****** *******', '******* ******* ************', *** 'too **** ************ ** *********' **** *** ***** **** ******.

******

***** ****** *******.  ******* *** ***** ******* *** * ******, or *********** * ****** **** **** *** ****** ** *** biggest *******:

  • "**** ** *** ******* *****. ***** ****** ***** *** ***** many **** ******* *** ****** ** ****** ** *****."
  • "******* ** **** * ***** ****** ******* *** ****** ** cameras "******" *** *** ****** ** ****** "******."
  • "*-** ************ ********* **** * ******** **** *** ******* ** purchase * *********."

*** **** ************

****** ************ ** * *** ********, *** ** *** **** potential *****. *******, *** **** ** ***** ***** ***** * seat ** *** ********** *****, *** **** ********* ** ** to ****** ********:

  • "*** ****** ** ********* *** ** **** ****** ******* ** be ******** *** *** ****** ***** *****- ***** ** ***** pointless. ***** ******** ***** **** **** **** ***** ************ **** we **. **** *** ****** ****** * ********* *** * help."
  • "*** **** ********* *** ******* *****. **** ** ** **** us, ***** *** ****** ** ** ****. *******, ** ******* turns **** *** ******** * ** ** **** *********, **************, academics, ******* ******** (*********, **** *****, *******)*** **** ****."
  • "****** **** *** ******** ****** *** ********* **** ****** ********** and *****."

*********** ************

*******, *** ********, *********, *** ******* **** ** *** ************ system ***** ** *************. **** ***** ******** *************** *** * tough **** ** ******, *** ******* ******** *** ********* ** key:

  • "************* ********** ***********, *** ****** ********* *** ****** *** **** results."
  • "*** ******* ***'* *** * ***** ****** ** ****** *** have ******** *******."
  • "********* **** ******* * ***** ** ******* *** ****** *** do *** ****** *** ***** ** ****** ***** ** **** the ****** ** *** *******. **** * *** ***** ***** they *** ***** **** * ****** ** ******* *** ****'* catch ***** ** * *****/*****."

Comments (16)

Were there any questions about audio recording?

No specific audio recording questions were part of this survey. What questions do you have?

When discussing the reason for lack of cameras in the classroom, namely "Privacy!", it occurred that the same objection might be lodged against recording of audio in any part of the school.

And since many cameras these days come with built-in microphones so installers might have to explicitly disable them to avoid violating anyone's rights.

On the other hand, if proper procedure were to followed, e.g. clear signage etc, then one could possibly monitor audio. Audio, if it were to exist legally, could be of great value when investigating an argument that turned deadly, for instance.

Also, live audio could be crucial in situational awareness during an active shooter scenario.

In addition there are advanced classroom systems being deployed specifically with audio in mind, see for instance the discussion $3,000 Per Classroom School Camera System. Also some integrators have been involved in bidding such systems, noted in Cameras With Audio Recording...In The Classroom???.

So, I guess a question would be something like "Do you record audio?"

Hi 'Al'If recording audio is recommended/required for an installation (assuming all legal issues are handled), it is recommended to look at sourcing a third party microphone for use when possible (again, assuming the camera has a mic input).

If recording audio is recommended/required for an installation (assuming all legal issues are handled), it may be recommended to look at sourcing a third party microphone for use when possible (again, assuming the camera has a mic input).

My experience tells me that many cameras with built-in microphones have relatively poor audio performance; or at least poorer than an external microphone.

Sometimes this is due to camera positioning (camera to too far away from the subject to pick up audio clearly), or poor hardware...or both.

Using a powered external microphone may add flexibility and increase audio performance. Some areas may even benefit from some type of noise cancellation.

Thanks Matt!

In the cases where microphones are built-in, what has been your experience as to what will happen when such a camera is added to a typical VMS? Will they just record audio by default, since they have access?

Or do they specifically require enabling before recording audio? In the former case, it seems that audio might be inadvertently captured, even if never used.

Moreover, even in the case where the audio is intentionally disabled or not enabled, is that likely to consist of much more than a checkbox on the camera config page, which could be innocently changed at any time down the line?

Is there anything an integrator should do to insure that a later violation of wiretapping statutes are not blamed on his install?

Hi 'A',

You bring up an excellent point regarding 'innocent changes' (or even malicious changes) to enable audio. There was a circumstance in my past life where we were proposing cameras for government educational facilities. They actually required that the INTERNAL microphone wires inside of the camera be physically disconnected, cut or omitted completely from the camera build to avoid exactly what you mention.

The fear was, though audio was disabled (software-wise) on the camera and the VMS, it was simply a matter of turning them both 'on', and opening them up to a huge legal issue.

To your first point, I don't have enough experience with the audio side of various VMS's to know what they do by default, but the ones I have seen and can recall generally have audio disabled by default.

From an integrators standpoint, I think it is very important to document these types of settings to show their current state upon completing the installation. Maybe even get sign off on it verifying that the end user (or whoever) agrees as a CYA approach. This may not solve the problem, but would be good ammunition for you should this circumstance ever arise (i.e. 'Showing where 'X' signed off that audio was in fact disabled as part of the installation agreement).

Hi, Louroe guy here.

All of the above is good advice with audio, both from a performance side and also privacy considerations.

We've seen audio be used in schools not just for a security purpose, but also as a learning tool. Think of the audio/video recording of a lecture being used as a study aid. There's also increased interest in audio as a tool for identifying or verifying bullying claims amongst students or when a student claims that a teacher is being inappropriate or abusive.

With regards to integrator liability when steps are taken to document proper installation and configuration, I'm not aware of integrators getting into legal trouble. If there are documented cases I'd very much like to see them. Much more common is that the liability falls on the end user for using equipment in an inappropriate way, same as if someone moved a camera into a restroom.

Hi Brian, for Apple-centric schools, did any integrators mention using Ben Software SecuritySpy? I'm aware that Exacq has had a good Mac client for years but am intrigued that there was no mention of running the VMS on a Mac using SecuritySpy.

For those who answered Exacq, was their any indication of whether the school was using an Exacq NVR or whether it was running the Exacq VMS on their own computer? Thank you for another insightful article.

Hello Luke:

I went back and looked, but there were no mentions of 'SecuritySpy' specifically.

In many cases, the recording server is still WinOS based, but the client may need to run on a Mac. I am not sure if a 'totally Mac' solution is needed given the lack of Apple examples in the server rack.

There again was no clear differentiation between Exacq NVRs vs. VMS on COTS (Commercial-Off-The-Shelf) servers.

However, there were many examples that collectively mentioned appliances, NVR/DVRs, or even NAS based recorders for a variety of other platforms.

In general, I think those devices are more commonly used in smaller deployments, while purpose-built servers are the prime option for medium/large deployments.

Hi Brian,

Thank you for digging back through the responses to obtain these answers. I find it interesting that even in a Mac stronghold, their preference is for something other than the most widely known Mac VMS server. I had guessed, probably wrongly, that maybe they just wanted an appliance they would run rather than a server they would have to configure and maintain. However given you saw examples of Exacq VMS and Exacq NVRs at the Apple-centric schools, it would appear this is not the case. It seems as though they want the Exacq features and support so long as there is a decent Mac client. That's useful to know. Thank you!

I think one of the reasons you don't see VMS servers running on Mac OS is that most districts run on Windows at the server level, regardless of being an all Mac desktop environment. Apple discontinued the XServe years ago, then discontinued the Mac Mini and Pro server models, and now OSX Server is an add-on package to whatever you choose to add it to, so I think the few IT folks who were fans of Apple server products quit on it with those models going away.

Thank you Ethan. I was never a fan of the Xserve or Xserve RAID as I found the hardware to be overpriced, overly slow and RAID rebuilds took forever compared with other brands of RAIDs. Having said that, the new Mac Pros are nice and powerful even if they aren't rack-mountable.

My theory is that very few integrators are going to lead or endorse selling SecuritySpy since it can be purchased directly online.

Secondly, SecuritySpy does not really have any sales or marketing, so unless a school IT person is actively pursuing them, it is not going to happen.

That said, I would not be surprised if some schools that DIY surveillance did use SecuritySpy.

Thank you John, that makes eminent sense.

Different take on audio.... Two-way Intercom..... Currently working on a project that has been traditional analog video, Pelco switcher, outboard high power open voice intercom system. The "spot" monitor controls a relay bank that connects the intercom to speakers in the view of the camera. Has been working since 2000ish. The customer is now moving to IP. They insist on the same capability. Security uses this two-way intercom all the time. (no recording.... just live two way talk.) Looking for suggestions on how to accomplish this in the IP world. They really want this to be automatic, no "selector" buttons on the intercom. Must be bi-directional, not just inbound or outbound. Speaker/Microphone will be located in the view of the camera, not at the camera. They want to reuse the existing speakers if possible.

Hey Chuck, the solution I have experience with isn't quite what you're looking for, but I will share it here in case you find it useful.

The scope of the project was to install cameras on the entrances of a school, where after all students have entered the building the doors remain locked all day and visitors must be 'buzzed' in to gain access into the facility.

However, the receptionist office was down the hall from the main entrance and there was no way for them to see if someone was waiting at the entrances. So a camera was installed at each door and wired to an intercom with a push button. When a person approached the school and wanted to gain access they pushed the 'talk' button, which sent a live video feed to the receptionists (via. an automated pop up window). The receptionists could then see who was at the door and have a conversation with them via the pop-up window. If they were 'approved' to enter the school, the receptionists could click a 'door open' button in the video pop-up and it would release the lock on the entrance.

This allowed them to keep the doors locked throughout the day while ensuring people who are waiting to enter can be seen and heard and a decision can be made whether to let them in or not.

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