School Surveillance System and Access Control Case Study: Paso Robles Joint Unified School District

Just The Facts:

Customer: Paso Robles Joint Unified School District

Location: Paso Robles, California

Challenge: Installing security cameras and access control at seven elementary schools, four middle schools, and four high schools.

Solution: Installing an access control and surveillance system that keeps 6,300 students safe and secure.

Results: A properly functioning state-of-the-art access control and surveillance camera system that protects district buildings and a new relationship with a Verkada partner. 

Customer Challenge

The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District, home to nearly 6,300 students, is renowned for its award-winning schools and nationally recognized programs in Career Technical Education, Advanced Placement, Dual Immersion, Journalism, Agriculture, Visual and Performing Arts, Athletics, and more. 

This distinguished district, encompassing seven elementary schools, four middle schools, and four high schools, prioritizes security as highly as it does academic excellence. To enhance safety across its campuses, the district enlisted a Verkada partner to design and implement a state-of-the-art security system.

Once this company had designed the system, it was ready to turn installation over to someone else. In this case, the company turned to Safe and Sound Security, also a Verkada partner, to install the system. 

“Not all Verkada partners do installation,” explains Zachary Palmquist, project manager for Safe and Sound Security, the installer for this project. “Some Verkada partners only sell equipment and then partner with other firms like ours who have full installation teams.” 

When it comes to school district security installations, Safe and Sound Security is a highly sought-after option due to their technicians’ vast experience, he adds.

“Network security is very tight in school districts and things must be done in a very specific way,” he says. “The way that the system is installed and patched into the network is very specific and needs an experienced installer.”

Palmquist adds there are a lot of “trunk slammers,” among security system installers. These companies, he says, often cut corners as they install the system, collect their checks and leave. Later, when the system doesn’t work as intended, they do not stand behind their work.

Safe and Sound Security stands behind every installation. “Though we are on site in our Safe and Sound Security shirts, we are representing another company, so we conduct ourselves very professionally and do the installation correctly,” he says.  

Safe and Sound Security’s network installer division stepped in to install network and data drops, access points, point of service (POS) switches, fiber optic runs, Cat6 ethernet cable, and security systems. And they did it right the first time, he says.

Technicians didn’t just slap cameras on a wall or drill a hole without waterproofing it. They didn’t run cables over fluorescent lights or next to electrical conducting devices, like a “trunk slammer” would. “We installed everything professionally and in a way that met very exacting specs,” he says.

The resulting system incorporates camera networks, access control, and a new and enduring partnership with a Verkada partner. “We now have a partner who trusts that we will install everything correctly,” he says. “That partner will now use us every time he has a job because he knows we will represent him well.” 

Installing Top Tier Technologies  

The project at Paso Robles Joint Unified School District will update aging, analog security cameras at every school. It is a phased project that will take some time, Palmquist adds.

To date, Safe and Sound Security has installed 56 top-tier Verkada cameras, six Verkada vape sensors, and four access control doors.

Verkada cameras use edge-based analytics to identify and sort individuals based on unique characteristics like clothing, color, gender, and backpacks or bags. This feature enables highly detailed people detection through comprehensive People Analytics. For example, school officials can use the system to search video footage to find anyone dressed in a striped shirt and blue jeans. Once found, they can track the individual as he or she moves throughout the building. 

With Verkada cameras, security administrators can easily identify and monitor individuals of interest. The process is simple—upload their faces and receive instant alerts whenever the person is captured on camera, according to Palmquist.

Safe and Sound Security also installed Verkada SV23 Air Quality Sensors and placed a security camera outside each bathroom at Paso Robles middle and high schools, he adds.

Verkada sensors track air quality to detect high vape index events, while the camera system records people entering and leaving the bathroom. The system automatically alerts school officials about the high vape index and they can use their phones to identify the students involved. 

Verkada access control systems require badged entry and keep a constant record of all who enter and exit through secure doors, he adds.

Working Hand in Hand with District IT

Installing these devices demands that installers closely partner with the district IT department, according to Palmquist. In this case, he says the IT director was very hands on. 

“We worked closely with their IT director and IT team after our partner made the formal introduction,” he says. “Our partner handled the commissioning of the system after installation, staff training and product configuration.” 

Every installed device in the district had to be connected to a cable and integrated into the school district network. The Paso Robles IT director didn’t want network intrusions or bad quality terminations going onto district equipment. He also wanted everything labeled according to the district’s labeling nomenclature.

“They would tell us exactly which switch to plug into or what port to plug into,” he says. “Testing connectivity, registering devices, was all a team effort with their IT team.” 

After cabling was complete, Safe and Sound Security tested every cable running from Point A to Point B. “It is a certified cable, meaning we plug in our testers, and it runs tests across the cable. When it passes this test, the cable is now known as a certified cable. There are no faults in it. We know the distance of it and that the pin layouts are good. We ran tests on every single cable we installed here.”

Because some buildings lacked network infrastructure, Safe and Sound Security worked with IT to install wireless point-to-point devices. 

“In order to put cameras in those places, we needed a network connection,” he explains. “This required radio alignment, meaning these things must be pointed at each other in just the right way to work. A point-to-point system is basically an ‘invisible cable’ that must be aligned vertically and horizontally to communicate correctly.”

Access Control Installation

Safe and Sound Security also installed access control systems at schools, according to Palmquist.

Safe and Sound Security technicians needed to modify the door hardware for the Verkada partners’ access control systems. Most doors have either a crash bar or lever set installed on them, which is the hardware used to enter and exit through the door. 

“When we do access control, we have to swap out that hardware with electrified hardware so that if a user presents their credential to the card reader, it sends a low-voltage electrical signal to that lock and disengages a solenoid so they can open the door,” he says. “We had to modify the lock hardware to do this.”

This modification, he says, was fairly straightforward. Installers pulled off the old hardware and installed new hardware on the door. Then they electrified the new hardware by running cables to it. But it must be done correctly for the doors to function as intended, he says.

Takeaways

The successful implementation of a state-of-the-art security system at Paso Robles Joint Unified School District highlights the importance of collaboration and expertise in ensuring student safety. 

A Verkada partner’s relationship with Safe and Sound Security resulted in the installation of advanced surveillance and access control systems across the district. 

Safe and Sound Security’s meticulous approach to installation, including precise network integration and adherence to exacting specifications, has not only safeguarded nearly 6,300 students but also established a strong, reliable relationship with a new Verkada partner.

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