The Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 (IU13), like all intermediate units in the state of Pennsylvania, provides services to school districts. IU13 is especially diverse and advanced, and its services are far-ranging. Teachers with a wide variety of expertise serve pupils with emotional, vision or hearing, autism- spectrum, and other learning challenges. IU13 covers Lancaster and Lebanon Counties, and employs about 1,800 administrative, instructional, paraprofessional, and substitute staff. Two of those employees are Roy Hoover, Network and Telecommunications Coordinator for the IU, and Brian Steigauf, Senior Systems Administrator, who have worked with App-Techs to implement or update access control and surveillance systems.
Hoover's and Steigauf's introduction to App-Techs occurred as these systems weree moved into the Technology Department and became their responsibility over the past year or more. During building renovations, they state, "the old style systems were not where we wanted to be," and an effort to modernize began. Initial projects with App-Techs went well, and IU13 is "now looking at moving the rest of our sites from older technology to something more modern, with no special cabling for networked cameras, and security monitoring that is tied into Active Directory.
They share several reasons for needing enhanced security. Some of IU13's sites are Community Schools, wwhich serve students with behavioral disabilities. This creates a set of issues not typical to other public schools, which surveillance technology helps address. "We must be able to see what's going on in all parts of the building at all times," state Hoover and Steigauf. The IU also requires access control technology, so any buildings with students remain locked, and "nobody can just walk in. Staff have cards and buzz in." On the other hand, as a provider of professional development for school districts, "We have many teachers, principals, and para-educators coming and going at our Burle Conference Center," which has some open, public areas (with video surveillance), and other secure areas with access control for staff only. Solutions
App-Techs has equipped IU13 with Milestone video surveillance software, and has implemented security solutions at three locations:
- The Valley Road Education Center in Neffsville, PA has five cameras, three 2N intercoms and three ISONAS access control (AC) readers.
- Their Lebanon, PA facility has three ISONAS readers, which are all tied in with elevator doors at the site.
- The main Burle building in Lancaster has twelve cameras, five ISONAS readers, and also 2N intercoms – which are tied into their phone system, as are their AC door panels.
IU13 is largely using Hikvision cameras, although some Panasonic models are in use at Valley Road. All are high-resolution, fixed range-of-vision cameras, and all are located indoors — with the exception of two outdoor cameras at Valley Road.
Video feed data is transmitted to the main Burle site via IU13's powerful WAN (wide area network). App-Techs technician Ryan John says, "A unique thing is that with IU13 ... all video recording and management servers are virtual machines. Basically they have a clustered server farm."
Company co-founder Dan Fritsch adds, "We're doing different things for IU13 — integrating their Milestone, ISONAS and 2N intercoms with their network, telephone, and Lync systems." He also compliments "their crack IT team," and expresses that App-Techs has enjoyed collaborating with them on innovative solutions. Results
Hoover and Steigauf remark that, for IU13, results are not in terms of expansion, but "migrating and upgrading from old systems. It's really all management and back-end results that make it better." Tying security systems into Active Directory helps automate everything. Group information is moved into Active Directory so the Technology Department does not have to keep reallocating access as staff changes take place. "It eliminates the time burden and potential for user error," they state, "It all happens automatically now," and systems are more fully integrated."
Regarding their reasons for selecting App-Techs, they say, "One challenge was finding a vendor who really integrated their products on a network, and had products that integrated into Active Directory really well." App-Techs came closest to meeting this important criterion.
They go on to say that theirs is "very much a hands-on IT shop. We make sure it's really well-integrated. [While] it has been a learning curve on both sides, we still have not come across anyone who does it better. There's room for others in your market to do a lot better!"
"App-Techs made really good choices with Milestone and Isonas because they do integrate and work well in a standards-based world." They conclude by saying, "You guys are the best we found. Everyone else in the security market is stuck in the 90's, but you're in the 21st Century."
To learn more about how App-Techs can help your organization, call (717) 735-0848, contact us, or visit our website.