Bill Gleason, who has been Safety Coordinator for the School District of Lancaster (SDL) the past seven years, and previously was a member of the Lancaster City Police Department serving as liaison with the district, shared some history of the relationship with App-Techs — both prior to his coming on board and in the years since.
SDL was encountering issues which prompted implementation of security systems. Those issues included theft, disturbances involving students, custody issues, vandalism, BB gun incidents, and violence in the city overall.
While "school districts are always broke," Gleason said there are still "capital funds that could be accessed to install security, as new buildings are constructed or older ones are undergoing renovation." During his first year as Safety Coordinator, SDL worked with App-Techs to install over 70 new cameras at both of the McCaskey High School campuses, and transitioned over to Milestone's video management software. During the next 6-12 months, they also signed a maintenance agreement with App-Techs to regularly monitor and troubleshoot systems, as well as adding a second server. Solutions
Since 2007, App-Techs has equipped the School District of Lancaster with cameras and servers at multiple sites throughout the city.
These servers are running our EasyNVR software, as well as Milestone XProtect Corporate video surveillance software. Using the "Corporate" level enables District security staff to manage the entire system via SSO (single sign-on) from any computer at any location which is on the "domain". "One interface can do it all," says App-Techs' technician Ryan John. He also commented that using Corporate gives SDL a much more powerful set of rules to control and manage system events.
Additionally, Milestone Interconnect allows any Milestone surveillance product at sites around the city — encompassing two high school campuses, several middle and elementary schools, daycare, and administrative offices — to be linked with the advanced surveillance functions of XProtect Corporate at the principal site.
The district also has an access control system, so that when doors open, the system can display video of any given door. As App-Techs technician Derek Lindstrom put it, "They know which door opened — when, where, and how."
Virtually all of the cameras in SDL's network are IP-based. They are still bridging a small number of analog cameras through the use of encoders. Many of the outdoor cameras are PTZ, and there are high-resolution, 12-megapixel, 180-degree cameras in the J.P. McCaskey high-school campus gymnasium.
In terms of future endeavors, SDL has interest in implementing App-Techs mobile applications and technology for security officers and administrative staff.
Safety Coordinator Bill Gleason relates specific results in two of the areas which first led SDL to install security systems: custody issues and disturbances involving students. "Especially at the elementary buildings, a good use of the cameras has been to document and help resolve custody issues." As one example, if there is a protection-from-abuse order where one parent is not allowed to see a child or come to school, and the other parent complains, he says, "We can just pull up video footage to prove that the parent was or was not there."
Regarding student disturbances, he finds that parents often struggle to "believe what their child did, but as soon as we got the security cameras, it cut down so much on administrative time. That's the greatest part of the cameras — you just hit Play, and say, ‘Well, see for yourself.’ " He also relates that, after cameras were installed at Lincoln Middle School, "the very first thing that was captured was a disturbance involving two students, and the parent refusing to believe her child was involved. Having video footage helped address this more easily." As a result, school principal Josh Keene told Gleason, "I don't care what else happens with these cameras, this alone is worth it!"
Gleason states that App-Techs is "always good, always reachable." Having had experience with other video management systems and providers, he says, "I much prefer the Milestone system and it's very user- friendly." He went on to say it is "much easier dealing with App-Techs and customer service is much better. We can call or e-mail Ryan or Andrew, and within minutes the problem is being looked into and resolved." He noted that project manager Andrew Haefner proactively monitors the system, and takes the initiative to contact SDL with any problems he observes and his diagnosis. Gleason also remarked that he appreciates not needing to go through a work order process. "I have a phone conversation with App-Techs, and they take care of it."
On the topic of training, Gleason has this to say: "If we have a new user, Andrew or Ryan will get with them immediately" regarding use of the Milestone system and cameras. "There is always an open-door policy on training." Gleason notes that App-Techs frequently reaches out to SDL staff to "let us come out and show you how to do this," offering demonstrations of additional functionality of the system.
He also adds that App-Techs is "always suggesting new things, taking a walk-through of buildings and making suggestions, without trying to sell us the world. The focus is on what we need, without a hard-sell. "When funding is an issue, as it always is for public school systems, SDL can say, "We just can't hit this, can you bring it down for us? and App-Techs finds a way to trim a little bit" — although Gleason emphasizes, "there's never a lot of fat to begin with."
"Our relationship with App-Techs has been fantastic." To learn more about how App-Techs can help your organization, call (717) 735-0848, contact us, or visit our website.