A new £2,5m maths and library wing at Sheen School, London, has been equipped with the latest IP-based CCTV technology from Panasonic. This networked system, integrated with alarms and advanced building control functions (such as automated window opening), also incorporates an earlier, analogue system which had been installed in the older school buildings.
Planners at the school say the new IP solution gives them greater flexibility in the way they will be able to use - and add to - their surveillance system in the future.
Ahead of the opening of the new wing - in Spring 2008 - 10 Panasonic domes were installed in key communal areas: in corridors, at exit points, in the library and around the outside of the building. The security system was fitted by Kent-based IC2 CCTV and Security Specialists.
The company has a string of high profile clients using Panasonic solutions, supplied through CCTV Center, including Premiership football clubs, airports and high street retail chains - and a number of other schools. Developments in IP CCTV have been of particular benefit in the education sector, says IC2's MD Andrew Wheelan, with lower costs and greater capability allowing schools to do much more to protect themselves.
"Schools face ongoing problems in terms of vandalism, intrusion and theft. In many ways it has been an uphill struggle for them, but now CCTV technology has evolved to the point where it can really help," he says. "With IP-based systems you can locate cameras anywhere along the network, meaning you can get coverage of areas where it was not previously affordable. You can view images from any location on the Internet, and you can see much more quickly if an attack is taking place."
Even before the new facility at Sheen had opened, the cameras had already started to pay for themselves - culprits who caused £500 worth of damage to a new set of doors were successfully identified, and the costs of repair were recouped ('they had assumed the cameras were not yet working').
The Sheen School has a particular challenge to address, in that its grounds incorporate well-equipped sporting facilities that are open for public use out of school hours.
The combination of attractive new facilities, and open public access, inevitably increases the risk of vandalism and theft. The new camera system is playing a key part in reducing this - and Sheen School has another advantage in the shape of IT manager Robin Birtles. With a background in the security industry, Birtles knew what modern surveillance technology was capable of, and he knew exactly what sort of system he wanted.
"I was keen to use Panasonic equipment because of its reputation and because of the support you get with it - that is what we had used elsewhere in the school. Once I discovered that with the new-build I could upgrade from analogue and get a full IP system from my preferred manufacturer, the decision was made."
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