Faced with ever-increasing security demands and a challenging urban location, the biggest task for Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS), aside from educating its children, is ensuring the safety of more than 45,000 students and staff, and protecting its property.
“We want to ensure that when teachers and students come back to school the next day, equipment and resources are where they left them,” says Rick Joest, technology foreman for the Indianapolis Public School District, the largest school district in the state of Indiana.
For the district, which includes 76 schools and 90 buildings, investing in advanced technology and staff, with an already tight budget, proved to be a difficult task. First, the district needed to upgrade its incompatible and cumbersome access control, video and burglar alarm systems.
“One of the big issues is the opening and closing of buildings,” says Joest. “When the building was opened, the custodian would call the school police and send an alarm code when they entered. With 90 buildings opening up about the same time every morning they were getting flooded with calls.”
The advancements of technology into the classroom led to another area of concern. It was no longer enough to just have motion detectors in the hallways.
“We saw an evolution from breaking into office areas for equipment, to simply breaking in through a classroom window and taking a computer and leaving without even being detected,” says Joest. “The equipment just vanished.”
When the Indianapolis Public Schools began to deploy new security equipment five years ago, the district could not anticipate how future systems would work together. Joest says they quickly realized they would need a partner that could protect these investments by building on existing systems, and Honeywell had that platform.
To improve safety and reduce costs, Honeywell is integrating the district’s existing equipment with new access control, digital video monitoring and archiving and an asset tracking system using its Enterprise Buildings Integrator™ (EBI) platform. The district will use the consolidated system to provide better, more responsive security throughout all buildings and enable Indianapolis staff to monitor and control all security from a single, centralized location.
Upon completion of the renovations in 2009, Honeywell Security Manager will automate the process of opening each building and confirm the identity of that person without them having to make a phone call. This will help reduce the number of calls the school police department receives every morning, and provide the district a tool for meeting ADA compliance requirements.
Inside its buildings, the district plans to use Honeywell Asset Locator, a tool used to track the location of critical equipment and security people within facilities. The system tracks tagged assets and graphically displays them from the EBI workstation. IPS will use Asset Locator to track and protect valuable artwork and the district’s 300 school buses.
Monitoring activity within the district’s buildings has also been greatly enhanced. In recent years, IPS has used video cameras to watch school entrances and, more recently, most hallways. As part of the upgraded security system, the district will install additional digital video cameras and link them using Honeywell’s Digital Video Manager™ (DVM) system. The system will enable district staff to view, record, archive and retrieve digital video clips from the EBI workstation. The new system will eliminate the cost and inefficiencies of traditional tapes, tape storage and VCRs.
A More Secure Future
Overall, the new automated system will enhance the human factor by relieving some of the tedious work that previously overwhelmed IPS staff.
“Our dollars are primarily spent to educate children, and as much as we can save in our security portion, the more dollars we make available to that child to assist in their learning,” says Joest. “We want to provide the best updated technology that allows us to focus our resources where they need to be spent.”
When complete, IPS will have better tools for ensuring students’ safety, protecting school assets, and responding to issues quickly and effectively. By integrating security and other building functions, the district will reduce costs and improve security.
“Five years ago we thought it was probably impossible to find a company that could tie all of our systems together,” says Joest. “But here we are today on our way to a fully integrated system that will enhance our ability to protect our investments and property, and better ensure the safety of our students and staff.”