Case Study: Pennsylvania District Installs Milestone VMS

Case Study: Pennsylvania District Installs Milestone VMS

Serving as the school district for 10 boroughs and townships in Pennsylvania, the Ligonier Valley School District installed its first district-wide IP video surveillance system in 2021. With remote viewing capabilities, school administrators and the Ligonier Valley Police Department can quickly respond to and prevent dangerous situations from occurring on school grounds.

Challenge: Responding Quickly to Safety Incidents

The Ligonier Valley School District (LVSD) lacked a flexible, centralized solution to prevent, monitor and investigate incidents district-wide. When incidents did occur, they distracted school administrators from focusing their efforts on the overall learning experience. In addition, parents and staff members were increasingly concerned about external threats occurring on school grounds.

Solution: Real-Time Monitoring

LVSD upgraded its existing security infrastructure to integrate with the Milestone XProtect® Professional+ open platform video management system (VMS). With the open platform VMS, seamless integration into the existing infrastructure—as well as adding new security technologies—was made possible, leading to improved safety and real-time monitoring of all the schools. It also created a much easier way for the school district to review footage when investigating incidents, as local law enforcement can now access and monitor activities in real-time.

Result: Improved Safety District-Wide

Milestone’s open platform VMS was selected for a myriad of reasons by the district and In-Shore Technologies, Inc. (In-Shore), a full-service technology consulting firm who handled the security installation. With 60-plus years of experience creating technical solutions for some of the largest networks in the industry, In-Shore has been working with LVSD since 2008 and handles all of its IT-related services.

“After doing our due diligence and working with Milestone in the past, we knew that their open VMS solution was the best one for this project,” said Michael Stohon, President at In-Shore Technologies. “What we really liked about the Milestone solution was that the end user is not tied to one particular camera vendor, as you can easily expand the system to accommodate growth and upgrade when new camera technology is released.”

With a range of benefits that includes superior technical support, ease of use, cost and performance, the Milestone open platform VMS even helped administrators carry out COVID-19 contact tracing and prevent the spread of the virus—in addition to mitigating security risks. When an incident occurs, administrators can now quickly access the VMS and review the security footage to investigate an event with law enforcement. The use of an advanced video surveillance system has helped identify when and where safety issues are occurring on school grounds. With the proper evidence caught on camera, disciplinary measures can be taken to prevent future incidents.

“We value safety, and this project has increased our ability to provide a safe and secure environment for our learners and staff,” said Tim Kantor, School Superintendent at Ligonier Valley School District. “This project has been completed seamlessly along with all of the other projects completed that involve our district’s technology.“

Centralized Search Simplifies Investigation of Incidents

Rich in history, Ligonier is home to Fort Ligonier, where the Battle of Ligonier took place in 1758 during the French and Indian War. The Fort is an equidistant four-minute drive from Ligonier Valley Middle School and Ligonier Valley High School. The historic Ligonier Valley is recognized by Country Living Magazine as one of “The Most Charming Small Towns in America” and by The Washington Post as a “Small-Town Charmer.”

Ligonier Valley School District is a Southwest Pennsylvania public school district located in Ligonier serving students from pre-K to 12th grade. Responsible for the safety of 1,450 students and around 250 staff members, LVSD is considered average in size among all 500 school districts in Pennsylvania. LVSD has 230.03 square miles of land area and 0.82 square miles of water area. The district office oversees four schools, including two elementary schools, one middle school and one high school. It offers two classrooms from birth to age three, 36 dual enrollment college classes and a customized learning approach that allows students to progress at their own pace with the help of a teacher or learning coach. Students in grades 10–12 at the district's high school can attend the Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center in Derry Township.

Since the school district had a low rate of safety incidents in the past, administrators wanted to preserve their safety profile and knew it was time to implement a centralized security system. It was important to the school to monitor both the interior and exterior of all the buildings that make up the school grounds. A total of 245 video surveillance cameras were installed throughout the district in hallways, stairwells, cafeterias, entrances, parking lots and building exteriors. LVSD’s previous security system was outdated and consisted of 16-channel DVRs set up at different locations. This created issues because footage playback was time-consuming and exporting video was cumbersome, delaying responses to potential emergencies.

LVSD needed a solution that offered a consolidated overview of the grounds with built-in system alarms for immediate visual verification. The new system also needed to have efficient video playback capabilities to make video investigation faster. Milestone’s open platform VMS was chosen because it works well with the existing infrastructure, supports the latest security technologies, and has a built-in centralized search function that enables investigators to find what they are looking for in one place, within minutes.

The Partnership Strengthened District's Security Infrastructure

In 2019, In-Shore Technologies, LVSD and Milestone came together to create a solid security infrastructure to better protect the school district against potential threats.

“Since 2008, we have been committed to giving students the opportunity to learn by using various technologies that enhance their educational experience,” said Stohon. “We were happy to work with LVSD and Milestone on this project and look forward to expanding the security system as needed in the future.”

Before the project began, In-Shore performed a walk-through of the school grounds in order to identify any coverage gaps. With the goal of monitoring every inch and angle of the school district property, the new system was installed within a short timeframe of two summer breaks.

In-Shore Technologies collaborated with Milestone Systems to install an on-premise version of the Milestone XProtect Professional+ VMS. The virtual local area network (VLAN) is a technology used on network switches to create virtual groups to allow broadcast traffic control and increase the security access level, thus avoiding unauthorized access.
“In-Shore set it up this way so the cameras can’t talk to the internet directly—for security purposes,” said Stohon.

With local network management, Milestone’s Husky 700R was selected as a backup to provide continuous recording in case of failover. The school is now able to utilize the system remotely through the Milestone XProtect Mobile App, which gives them access anywhere, anytime. The VMS also features the XProtect Web Client, a web browser platform that gives administrators remote access to the surveillance system from all common browsers and computer operating systems.

Training and Implementation: A Breeze

In-Shore Technologies deployed a seamless solution that was cost-effective and extremely easy for school administrators to use. Training was set up at the school, allowing authorized school staff to utilize the system to monitor school grounds. With new cameras installed at building entrances, school administrators can see 24/7 who is trying to enter school buildings on the videowall. The new security system has been instrumental in helping the district stay abreast of any situations that arise and quickly mitigate risks. Milestone’s Open Platform VMS is an ideal choice because it can support an unrestricted number of cameras (as well as cameras from multiple vendors), devices and servers. Now, all entry points into the schools can be effectively monitored, creating a much safer environment for students and staff.

This article originally appeared in the July / August 2022 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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