Challenge

The Sands Consolidated Independent School District (SCISD) in Ackerly, Texas, had been operating without a security system. There were no cameras to monitor the flow of students, teachers and others coming in and out of the buildings, and there was no access control system to secure school doors. With the number of recent attacks at schools, security cameras were needed to ensure only authorized personnel were allowed on school property for staff and student safety and to deter vandalism. The district is located in a rural area, but with easy access from a nearby State highway—with a response time of 15-20 minutes from law enforcement—so implementing a network-based pure-IP access control and video system and keeping the main campus and gym across the street secure at all times was deemed a priority during their recent school renovation and technology upgrade project.

Core Security Solution

The Sands CISD chose Responsive Services International Corp. (RSI, Inc.), a local technology solutions provider, to help them implement an integrated security solution. RSI installed a multifaceted system tailored to meet the district’s specified security needs. The core of the solution included 36 MOBOTIX IP indoor and outdoor security cameras and nine ISONAS PowerNet™ IP Reader-Controllers integrated with Milestone XProtect video management software (VMS). The district is operating Milestone XProtect Enterprise with a Milestone Husky M50, a 50-channel server, which is licensed for up to 40 cameras. Sands CISD opted to use five-megapixel, 180 and 360 coverage lenses on most of the MOBOTIX cameras. The camera choice enables the district to deploy fewer cameras but maintain extensive coverage of the school cafeteria and all doorways, hallways, entryways and common areas.

Both indoor and outdoor cameras record on motion detection only, as configured in the VMS to allow for recorded video storage of at least 30 days. The cameras cover all areas around school buildings, bus transportation, gym parking lots and the football field. As an added measure, the school district integrated their new voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony solution into the security system so when an individual hits the intercom key on the MOBOTIX door station at the front entrance, they appear in the Milestone interface displayed on the computer screen of an administrator, who can verify and authorize entry. This protocol keeps school personnel from getting locked out and ensures only approved visitors are let in.

This unique solution provides a seamless integration of the Milestone XProtect® Smart Client and the ISONAS Crystal Matrix software, for a security solution with unified command and control. The XProtect Smart Client manages the live video display and camera recordings while the ISONAS system does the access control in the background.

The ability to link cameras and ISONAS access points within the XProtect platform allows Henderson to view and verify events
The cameras cover all areas around school buildings, bus transportation, gym parking lots and the football field

Benefits Of Milestone Open Platform Integration With Pure IP From ISONAS

In the first two months after the installation was completed, Sands CISD already realised considerable benefits from integrating the Milestone open platform IP VMS with “Pure IP” access control technology from ISONAS. The district now has comprehensive camera coverage feeding into the Milestone VMS to verify and ensure that only students, staff and other authorized personnel are allowed on campus. The access control system from ISONAS allows the district to control all doors and assign different priority levels to various Sands CISD staff. The integration with the Milestone Access Control Module also lets Sands CISD efficiently and effectively monitor the campus and respond to potential incidents from a unified user interface.

RSI, Inc. had only 75 days to do a complete technology infrastructure overhaul – which meant installing new data cabling, new fiber optic cabling, wireless, VoIP telephony, all new servers and switches, in addition to the cameras and door access control systems. Throughout the installation, RSI received tremendous assistance from the Milestone and ISONAS technical support teams, and cited this as a significant factor in getting the project done on time and under budget.

Institutional Profile

The Sands CISD is a public school district located in Ackerly, Texas. It has been in operation since 1959 and currently comprises a K-12 school with 256 students and 44 teachers and staff. The school site is two square miles including all facilities in the area.

Ease Of Use Gets Sands CISD Up And Running Quickly

Originally, RSI had considered another solution, but decided to continue their search after experiencing installation issues on some other projects. They were looking for products that would be easy to install, implement and manage, especially because Sands CISD only has one dedicated IT employee on staff. “When we made the switch, we were only a couple of months away from the start of school,” says Chris Allen, Director of Sales and Marketing for RSI, Inc. “We were able to make this install work because of how easy and intuitive Milestone was for Sands CISD staff to learn and how seamlessly it integrated with ISONAS. Once the system was installed, in just a couple of days of training, their principal, administrators and secretarial staff could pull up live video, buzz people in and set up door access control protocols.”

Once the system was
installed, in just a couple of
days of training, their principal,
administrators and secretarial
staff could pull up live video,
buzz people in and set up
door access control protocols

MOBOTIX Cameras Provide Quality And Flexibility

Allen says choosing MOBOTIX cameras allowed the district to save money without compromising on quality. “When considering hardware for this installation, I advised the district to be mindful of licensing fees,” Allen says. “Because I felt it was important not to get locked into long-term licensing fees and contracts. MOBOTIX has no licensing or software fees and their cameras are fantastic.” With MOBOTIX’s proprietary codec for their five-megapixel cameras, school administrators can zoom in and out, fast forward and rewind footage without affecting video quality.

Allen says that the level of support and collaboration from the Milestone and MOBOTIX teams has been exemplary.

“MOBOTIX came out with new cameras, the C25 and the I25,” Allen says. “We wanted to buy and use these, but realised Milestone didn’t have those versions supported in their VMS system yet. Our Milestone representative got on the phone with MOBOTIX and gave us something that was not even released to the public yet. It was definitely a ‘wow’ moment for us and the district.”

Milestone, ISONAS Go Above And Beyond Basic Features

RSI, Inc. set up the ISONAS “Pure IP” access control system to unlock and lock the main door for an hour at the beginning and end of the school day, so parents can drop off and pick up their children without waiting to be buzzed in, since Sands CISD staff would be visible in the entry areas. Sands CISD has also programmed the backdoor to open at the end of a period for three minutes to allow students to get to the agricultural building, located away from main campus.

In addition to access control for the doors, ISONAS was able to provide Sands CISD with unexpected benefits. Sands CISD administrators liked the ISONAS ID access cards and decided to use the ISONAS template to create custom SANDS CISD ID badges with staff pictures on them that act as employee identification and access cards into the building.

“The teachers were pretty tired of using their keys all the time,” says Wayne Henderson, superintendent of Sands CISD. “They’re thrilled with the new system –they can get where they need to with a single swipe.”

Working with ISONAS, Henderson was also able to create different access levels for school personnel. He says that now, a small number of people have access to his office, and only coaches and specialty staff have access to the gym and auditorium. This helps ensure that teachers and staff are where they’re supposed to be at all times.

As the superintendent of a small school district with a limited staff, Henderson has many responsibilities and is often moving around campus. When he’s not in his office, he uses the Milestone Mobile client on his smartphone, which gives him real-time video viewing, as well as options for video playback and export. The ability to link cameras and ISONAS access points within the XProtect platform allows Henderson to view and verify events and alarms as well as respond to them thanks to the Milestone ACM integration with ISONAS.

“There will be times when I feel I need to be in two places at once,” Henderson says. “Milestone Mobile puts our entire security solution in the palm of my hand.”

Chris Allen says the smooth transition to Milestone and ISONAS spurred RSI, Inc. to make some significant business decisions for future projects.

“We didn’t know much about Milestone or ISONAS before we started,” says Allen. “But due to how well this installation has gone, we’ve decided to standardize all of our future deployments as much as possible with these two products and help schools around Texas improve their security measures with a cohesive integrated IP-based security solution.”

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

In case you missed it

Which Security Technologies Are Becoming Outdated Or Obsolete?
Which Security Technologies Are Becoming Outdated Or Obsolete?

When technology performs a required task effectively, there is little reason to upgrade to the ‘next big thing’. In this regard, the physical security market is notoriously slow to change. Much of yesterday’s most robust and dependable equipment is still in place at thousands of customer sites, still performing as well as the day it was installed. However, there comes a point when any technology becomes outdated. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: Which security technologies are becoming outdated or obsolete?

Physical Security And The Cloud: Why One Can’t Work Without The Other
Physical Security And The Cloud: Why One Can’t Work Without The Other

Human beings have a long-standing relationship with privacy and security. For centuries, we’ve locked our doors, held close our most precious possessions, and been wary of the threats posed by thieves. As time has gone on, our relationship with security has become more complicated as we’ve now got much more to be protective of. As technological advancements in security have got smarter and stronger, so have those looking to compromise it. Cybersecurity Cybersecurity, however, is still incredibly new to humans when we look at the long relationship that we have with security in general. As much as we understand the basics, such as keeping our passwords secure and storing data in safe places, our understanding of cybersecurity as a whole is complicated and so is our understanding of the threats that it protects against. However, the relationship between physical security and cybersecurity is often interlinked. Business leaders may find themselves weighing up the different risks to the physical security of their business. As a result, they implement CCTV into the office space, and alarms are placed on doors to help repel intruders. Importance of cybersecurity But what happens when the data that is collected from such security devices is also at risk of being stolen, and you don’t have to break through the front door of an office to get it? The answer is that your physical security can lose its power to keep your business safe if your cybersecurity is weak. As a result, cybersecurity is incredibly important to empower your physical security. We’ve seen the risks posed by cybersecurity hacks in recent news. Video security company Verkada recently suffered a security breach as malicious attackers obtained access to the contents of many of its live camera feeds, and a recent report by the UK government says two in five UK firms experienced cyberattacks in 2020. Cloud computing – The solution Cloud stores information in data centres located anywhere in the world, and is maintained by a third party Cloud computing offers a solution. The cloud stores your information in data centres located anywhere in the world and is maintained by a third party, such as Claranet. As the data sits on hosted servers, it’s easily accessible while not being at risk of being stolen through your physical device. Here’s why cloud computing can help to ensure that your physical security and the data it holds aren’t compromised. Cloud anxiety It’s completely normal to speculate whether your data is safe when it’s stored within a cloud infrastructure. As we are effectively outsourcing our security by storing our important files on servers we have no control over - and, in some cases, limited understanding of - it’s natural to worry about how vulnerable this is to cyber-attacks. The reality is, the data that you save on the cloud is likely to be a lot safer than that which you store on your device. Cyber hackers can try and trick you into clicking on links that deploy malware or pose as a help desk trying to fix your machine. As a result, they can access your device and if this is where you’re storing important security data, then it is vulnerable. Cloud service providers Cloud service providers offer security that is a lot stronger than the software in the personal computer Cloud service providers offer security that is a lot stronger than the software that is likely in place on your personal computer. Hyperscalers such as Microsoft and Amazon Web Service (AWS) are able to hire countless more security experts than any individual company - save the corporate behemoth - could afford. These major platform owners have culpability for thousands of customers on their cloud and are constantly working to enhance the security of their platforms. The security provided by cloud service providers such as Claranet is an extension of these capabilities. Cloud resistance Cloud servers are located in remote locations that workers don’t have access to. They are also encrypted, which is the process of converting information or data into code to prevent unauthorized access. Additionally, cloud infrastructure providers like ourselves look to regularly update your security to protect against viruses and malware, leaving you free to get on with your work without any niggling worries about your data being at risk from hackers. Data centres Cloud providers provide sophisticated security measures and solutions in the form of firewalls and AI Additionally, cloud providers are also able to provide sophisticated security measures and solutions in the form of firewalls and artificial intelligence, as well as data redundancy, where the same piece of data is held within several separate data centres. This is effectively super-strong backup and recovery, meaning that if a server goes down, you can access your files from a backup server. Empowering physical security with cybersecurity By storing the data gathered by your physical security in the cloud, you're not just significantly reducing the risk of cyber-attacks, but also protecting it from physical threats such as damage in the event of a fire or flood. Rather than viewing your physical and cybersecurity as two different entities, treat them as part of one system: if one is compromised, the other is also at risk. They should work in tandem to keep your whole organization secure.

Hybrid Working And The Threat Of Desk Data
Hybrid Working And The Threat Of Desk Data

The transition to remote working has been a revelation for many traditional office staff, yet concerns over data security risks are rising. Mark Harper of HSM explains why businesses and their remote workers must remain vigilant when it comes to physical document security in homes. Pre-pandemic, home offices were often that neglected room in people’s homes. But now things are different. After the initial lockdown in 2020, 46.6% of UK workers did some work at home with 86% of those doing so because of the pandemic. Semi-Permanent workspaces Since then, many have found that over time, those semi-permanent workspaces have become slightly more permanent – with official hybrid working coming into effect for an assortment of businesses and their teams. The adoption of hybrid working can in fact be seen as one of the few positives to come from the pandemic, with less travel, more freedom and higher productivity top of the benefits list for businesses and their employees. The handling of sensitive documents, is a growing concern for office managers But those welcomed benefits don’t tell the whole story. The transition to remote working has undoubtedly impacted workplace security, with various touch points at risk. The handling of sensitive documents for example, is a growing concern for office managers. In simpler times, sensitive data was more or less contained in an office space, but with millions of home setups to now think about, how can businesses and their office managers control the issue of desk data? Physical document security As of January 2021, it’s said that one in three UK workers are based exclusively at home. That’s millions of individuals from a variety of sectors, all of which must continue in their efforts to remain data secure. With that, reports of cyber security fears are consistently making the news but that shouldn’t be the sole focus. There is also the underlying, but growing, issue of physical document security. The move to remote working hasn’t removed these physical forms of data – think hard drives, USBs and paper based documentation. A recent surge in demand for home printers for example, only exemplifies the use of physical documents and the potential security issues home offices are facing. Adding to that, research conducted in 2020 found that two out of three employees who printed documents at home admitted to binning those documents both in and outside of their house without shredding them. Data security concern Without the right equipment, policies and guidance, businesses are sure to be at risk Those findings present a huge data security concern, one that must be fixed immediately. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has since released guidance for those working from their bedrooms and dining tables. Designed to help overcome these challenges, the ‘security checklists’ and ‘top tips’ should be the first port of call for many. Yet throughout, the ICO make reference to ‘following your organization’s policies and guidance’ – highlighting that the onus isn’t solely on the individuals working from their makeshift offices. Office managers have a monumental task on their hands to ensure teams are well equipped within their home setups. Without the right equipment, policies and guidance, businesses are sure to be at risk. But it would be wrong to insinuate that unsecure desk data has only now become an issue for organizations. Modern office spaces Keeping clear desks has long been a battle for many office managers. In fact, clear desk policies are practiced in most modern office spaces, with it recognized as a key preventative to personal information being wrongly accessed and so falling foul of GDPR legislation. Throwing sensitive documents in the bin was never an option pre-pandemic However, the unsupervised aspect of home working has led to a potentially more lax approach to these policies, or in some cases, they can’t be followed at all. For those taking a more laid back approach, organization leaders must remind staff of their data security responsibilities and why clear desk policies have previously proven effective. Ultimately, throwing sensitive documents in the bin was never an option pre-pandemic and this must be carried through to home workspaces now. Securely destroy documents There are also concerns over the equipment people have access to at home. For example, without a reliable home shredding solution, data security suddenly becomes a tougher task. To add to that, several recommendations state that employees working from home should avoid throwing documents away by instead transporting them to the office for shredding once lockdown rules ease. While this is an option, it does pose further issues, with document security at risk of accidental loss or even theft throughout the transportation period, not to mention the time spent in storage. The best and most effective way to securely destroy documents is at the source, especially in environments where higher levels of personal data is regularly handled. Correct shredding equipment The recent findings on home office behavior represent a true security risk Only when home workers implement their own clear desk policies alongside the correct shredding equipment (at the correct security level), can both home office spaces and regular offices become data secure. Realistically, these solutions should, like the common home printer, become a staple in home office spaces moving forward. The likelihood is that many UK workers will remain in their home offices for the foreseeable future, only to emerge as hybrid workers post-pandemic. And while the current working environment is more ideal for some than others, the recent findings on home office behavior represent a true security risk to organizations. With this in mind, it’s now more key than ever for business leaders, their office managers and homeworkers to all step up and get a handle on home data security policies (as well as maintaining their standards back at the office) – starting with the implementation of clear desk policies. After all, a clear desk equals a clear mind.