How does data-driven video technology contribute to improving the security of educational institutions in Latin America?
By David Sanchez*
The use of video technology plays a critical role in improving the safety and operational efficiency of schools. Having a data-driven video surveillance system can make all the difference when it comes to protecting students, teachers, administrative staff, and the entire student community in general.
According to a study published by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), more than half of students (51.1%) in the 16 Latin American countries examined say they have been victims of robbery, insults, threats or beatings. The publication highlights that the most frequent aggression is robbery (39.4%), followed by verbal violence (26.6%) and physical violence (16.5%).
Well, today's market offers technologies that can integrate video systems with others such as access control, lighting, sensors, alarms, even IP audio megaphones/speakers, and thus have a comprehensive data-driven solution to strengthen security in schools.
The goal of these tools is not to replace staff or human decisions, but to provide school staff with a powerful tool that helps them make the best decisions, give faster and more effective responses to events, as we will see with the examples below.
Protecting the Student Community with Open Platform Video Technology
An open-platform video management software (VMS) can monitor, detect, and classify objects and activities and send alerts when incidents occur. Cameras connected to the VMS can identify everything from open doors to abandoned objects.
For example, the audio sensors built into an open-platform VMS are able to alert when noise thresholds exceed normal, such as when there is a heated argument or situations involving broken glass, gunshots, or cries for help.
In the event of this type of event, an alert is generated so that those in charge act diligently, make the right decisions and prevent situations to regret.
Technology to Find Missing Children
School administrators may use data-driven video technology to track down missing students. By using the forensic search feature of an open VMS platform combined with analytical data, attributes such as the child's hair color, the color of their clothing or jacket, can be combined into a single search that provides unique infant videos that match these characteristics. In seconds, the child's last place in the school environment is discovered.
The open VMS platform with forensic search allows administrators to review hours of video in minutes. The search can be almost as personalized and specific as needed, using filters such as the student's height, clothing, hair, or skin color.
Smoke-free environments for vaping
Vaping, or inhaling vapor produced by e-cigarettes or other devices, is a growing practice among adolescents in the region, despite the fact that several countries in Latin America have joined the list of the 37 in the world that regulated consumption and banned its advertising, due to the lung damage they cause.
This problem is not limited to nicotine, as vaping is often used to consume THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana. Despite attempts to implement anti-vaping policies in schools, it remains a challenge. However, technological advances offer promising solutions.
The integration between VMS, sensors and advanced smart devices allows for more effective vaping detection, by identifying and distinguishing nicotine smoke and THC oil, as well as monitoring air quality in real time, by detecting carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide gases, and even volatile organic compounds from materials such as cleaning fluids, disinfectants, paints and varnishes.
In addition, there are add-ons that trigger alerts in areas where video cameras cannot be used, such as bathrooms or changing rooms, by detecting changes in the chemical composition of the air, facilitating immediate corrective action.
No strangers at school
As with sensors, open platforms for video management can be integrated with existing security systems, such as access control, to create a secure and user-friendly solution.
With these tools, security personnel receive alerts of any unauthorized movement inside the facilities in areas such as teachers' rooms or in assets such as computer areas, libraries or gyms, among others.
Cloud Data to Minimize Load
Thanks to advances in high-bandwidth wireless networking technology, video solutions with a hybrid approach to storage are possible, flexible, and affordable for schools.
This approach to video management provides key advantages for schools, such as external storage to free up weight on on-premises systems; They are easily accessible and offer the ability to share video internally and externally, which is very useful in case you need to provide forensic evidence to the authorities.
With capital investment and minimal upfront costs, a hybrid strategy allows the school to move at its own pace by integrating the cloud with its on-premises system as needed.
Accident prevention in parking areas
Finally, video data can also include traffic monitoring to help school security personnel decide if speed bumps need to be implemented in student pick-up zones or if more guards are needed at crosswalks.
Likewise, it is possible to implement video surveillance systems inside the buses provided for the transport of students, with the aim of ensuring that safety procedures are complied with and providing video documentation in the event of any event such as possible fights or some type of accident.
Puerto Rico, a success story in the region
In the region, some governments are already taking advantage of the benefits of this technology, as in the case of Puerto Rico, where the authorities decided to unify the surveillance of the cloisters by obtaining a robust VMS, to provide perimeter security to the more than 850 public schools from a centralized command, which reduced costs.
The Puerto Rican government spent about $25 million covering just 256 schools with the guard system, leaving nearly 600 schools unattended. This project made it possible to cover 100% of public schools with the same budget.
Smart analytics can also be a powerful tool for analyzing recorded videos. Data from normal operations and past incidents can provide information that helps schools better prepare for future threats. By analyzing them, schools identify areas where they need to improve safety and take proactive steps to reduce risk.
In conclusion, implementing a data-driven, open-platform video management system (VMS) offers numerous benefits within educational environments by allowing for the integration of multiple devices, making it easier to expand the system as needs evolve. Ultimately, this solution can provide greater security, flexibility, and efficiency in schools, contributing to creating safer educational campuses for the benefit of all involved.
* David Sanchez, Sales Manager of Milestone Systems for the northern region of Mexico.