Following a firearm incident, a Florida school district partners with Panasonic for enhanced safety of students and faculty..
Bay District Schools headquartered in Panama City, Fla., needed to expand and upgrade its camera system to IP. Like many districts, however, finding the budget for this transition was a challenge. Security concerns, however, were heightened following an alarming firearm incident at a board meeting.
Bay District Schools selected Panasonic i-PRO PTZ video technology offering sturdy vandal resistant construction and high performance optics and zoom capabilities.
In choosing to standardize on Panasonic’s industry leading i-PRO cameras and network video recorders, Bay District Schools’ security strategy now serves as a blueprint for schools across the nation.
Mike Jones, Chief of Police, Bay District Schools
Bay District Schools (BDS) serves nearly 26,000 students across 36 campuses in Bay County Florida. The district had enjoyed success with analog equipment from Panasonic and so decided to take a hybrid approach in its transition to IP.
The existing analog cameras would integrate seamlessly with the Panasonic’s newer i-PRO PTZ models offering sturdy vandal resistant construction and high performance optics and zoom capabilities. In addition, the newer cameras abilities to capture outstanding images in low-light conditions would serve the districts needs very well.
The initial upgrade process was slow as the district was impacted by budget cuts and obtaining funding for the project was a challenge. The team started with one school at a time, installing a network recorder and a variety of cameras including WV-SW396, WV-SW559, WV-NW964, WV-SF304,WV-202A, WV-NF284, WV-SW355, WV-SC385, and WJ-GXE500’s to capture video surveillance of the interior of the school and everyone entering and exiting each campus.
Then at a school board meeting, a disgruntled individual fired more than a dozen shots at six board members. Luckily no board members or bystanders were injured, but from that moment on it was and the school district’s mission to make sure all of its schools were more secure.
“We had already started the process of upgrading existing systems and adding cameras before the shooting happened,” said Mike Jones, Chief of Police, Bay District Schools. “Prior to the shooting there wasn’t a lot of support from the public or even some board members for more cameras. They just didn’t see it as a priority,” noted Jones, adding: “After the shooting, my superintendent told me, keep going and don’t slow down.”
Armed with renewed determination, funding from the Department of Homeland Security and overwhelming support from the community, Jones continued his efforts to expand the security and surveillance infrastructure throughout the district. Jones allocated the funds toward installing systems in more schools and expanding existing deployments by adding an additional 15 cameras at the district’s middle and high school campuses.
The second wave of cameras focused on the schools where the most incidents were occurring and extended surveillance capabilities to exterior locations like athletic fields and parking lots, where students could sneak on or off campus due to a lack of fencing or the limited presence of staff.
To expand mobile monitoring capabilities, at least three staff members in each of the middle and high schools were given access to any camera from their PCs leveraging Panasonic’s AM970 management software. They are also able to access feeds from their smartphones or tablets using Panasonic’s ASM200 software and free mobile client app.
All camera feeds from Panasonic’s ND400 recorders are brought back into the PMPU system management server and then to the network operations center (NOC), in Panama City, feeding 10 Panasonic displays. Eight of the displays are dedicated to camera feeds from 14 campuses across the district, one is dedicated to CNN, and one displays the locations of all school buses in the district via GPS tracking. The NOC also includes a portal to the sheriff’s office that can be used in the event of an emergency, allowing the department to quickly access live camera feeds from their S.W.A.T van for real-time situational awareness.
“Overall, we’ve been thrilled with the results,” stated Jones. “In fact, it’s amazing that I haven’t had to replace a single camera. The only time we had to replace a cameras was because someone painted over the lens,” he laughed. “In my opinion, there isn’t a better camera out there and Panasonic has been a true partner.”
The work that Chief Jones and the entire team at Bay District Schools has done is now a model for schools across the country. Chief Jones speaks at conferences and school board meetings across the country and regularly hosts administrators from other districts to tour the schools and learn best practices for implementing an effective security strategy.