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See Everything

Hires-hd_20_largeWhether it’s to keep an eye on a busy hallway or to make sure there are no intruders at night, every school should have security cameras in strategic locations. Vaddio sets the standard with high resolution cams that can be remotely aimed and zoomed in to see every detail. Its ClearViewHD-20 has a 20X optical zoom lens and can capture full high definition video while panning, tilting and zooming in on the action.

 

 

Keeping an Eye on the School

DCS-6511 a With summer around the corner, there’s never been a better time to outfit your school with a video surveillance system to make sure that it stays shut tight and its valuable equipment stay put until the school year starts in the fall. D-Link’s DCS-6511 HD Day & Night Vandal-Proof Fixed Dome Network Camera can keep an eye on the school and let you know when someone has broken in.

The white circular camera has a clear plastic dome to protect the digital video camera inside. It can be mounted in a variety of ways from screwed directly into a ceiling or wall to using a straight or bent pipe. Inside the box is most of the hardware you’ll need to permanently set it up, including electrical connectors and a star tool for opening the camera’s case.

All of the camera’s wires can be hidden to deter tampering. It’s weatherproof so it can be set up indoors or out, but you can’t replace the dome if it gets scratched or covered with spray paint.  

Underneath the dome is a high quality camera that can produce vivid and sharp 1,280 by 1.024 images and video streams. It is vastly superior to many surveillance cameras whose output looks more like it came from a Web cam than serious security equipment.

On top of H.264, Motion JPEG and MPEG-4 video formats, it can create an analog NTSC video stream for schools that already have the wiring for it. The camera can’t be panned or tilted remotely, but can be zoomed in 10-times to see a detail. Inside, it has a slot for holding an SD card for recording videos of suspicious behavior.

The camera does one thing that few devices of its kind can: listen and talk. It has an input jack for a microphone and an output connection for speakers so that a security guard can interact with the person on camera to determine if they pose a threat or are there to get directions or deliver a package.

Dcs 6511c Once it’s physically in place, setting up the camera starts with logging onto its IP address with a Web browser. It works with FireFox, Internet Explorer, Chrome and Opera, although if you use IE, you’ll need to load an Active-X component. On top of viewing the video stream as a window or full screen, you can set its resolution, flip or mirror the image and set up the camera’s autofocus abilities.

If you want, the Settings menu lets you configure the camera to act as a motion detector so that when something happens in the frame, it either takes a snapshot or starts recording video. This can be excellent evidence of a break-in for a guidance counselor or the police to use. The danger is that it starts up prematurely, like by a loose gerbil. The software has settings for controlling the sensitivity and whether an email is sent when it’s triggered.

If you’re using several cameras, each can be uniquely identified by name and the camera adds a time and data stamp for use as evidence. All video can be saved locally or to a network.

D-Link includes D-View Cam console software that can monitor a school’s worth of individual cameras as long as they are made by Dlink. It can show the output of a single cam or thumbnails of 4-, 6-, 9-, 10-, 16- or 32-streams. If you like, it can shuffle through them in sequence.

The security camera comes into its own at night. There’s a ring of infrared LEDs around the lens for illuminating nighttime scenes, such as in a deserted hallway, gym or playground. It worked well with little or no light, although the images get grainy and it can be hard to make out what’s going on.

DCS 6511 b It has a green LED that shows that it’s operating, which can help when setting it up and troubleshooting problems. Happily, it can easily be turned off so as not to tip off an intruder that he’s on candid camera.

 Unlike Panasonic’s BL-C230A , it lacks WiFi for wireless connections to the school’s network. It connects to a network via its Ethernet cable, and is powered via a 24-volt source or the included AC adapter. It can use the 802.3af Power over Ethernet standard to run data and electricity over a single Cat-5 cable, simplifying installation.

In daily use, the DCS-6511 was able to see potential intruders during the day and in the dark, catch motion and send me a notification that something was going on. I can think of no better way to protect a school when nobody is around.

Sure, at $960, the DLink DCS-6511 is not cheap, particularly when you figure that even a small school with likely need at least six or seven cams. But, insurance companies typically give a discount if you have a surveillance system and this camera requires little or no extra wiring. In other words, it is money well spent.

 

A

D-Link DCS-6511 HD Day & Night Vandal-Proof Fixed Dome Network Camera

$960

 

+ Day and night operation

+ Excellent software

+ Sharp, bright video

+ Motion detection and remote notification

+ Indoor/outdoor use

 

- Ethernet only

- Expensive

- Can’t replace clear dome

 

Video, Safe and Secure

Vusafe_logo It’s the rare school or district that hasn’t had a problem with inappropriate videos being watched and version 4.1 of M86 Security’s Web Filtering and Reporting Suite can keep students eyes on their work. The hardware filtering device now includes VuSafe’s secure video library that lets school officials search and tag videos to keep the bad videos and advertisements out of school.

iPad Lock Down

Ipad-cable-lock The first thing that schools that use iPads learn is that they are even easier to steal then traditional notebooks. Without a Kensington lock slot, the iPad runs the risk of disappearing when nobody’s looking. The iPad lock comes with a clear plastic case with a security lock so that it can be attached to furniture or a heating pipe. It willc ome with a pair of keys, will cost $65 and will be available in the coming weeks.

Eyes Have It

Cs-wmv02g Keeping an eye on the school at night and weekends can be an expensive hassle with security guards, or you can spend a fortune to put in security cameras that are monitored from a central location. Planex can cover the school with inexpensive video cameras that provide an eye on your school when nobody’s there. The CS-WMV02G costs $70, about the price of a Web cam, but has a built-in microphone and can be remotely tilted and panned to get the right shot. The camera connects via the school’s WiFi network, captures high-quality MPEG-4 video and can be set up to send emails if the image under surveillance changes, indicating an intruder or that the gerbil in Mrs. Johnson’s second grade class is loose again.

Freebee Friday: All-Around PC Security

Norton 360a If recovering from hack attacks, malware and viruses is taking up too much of your time, a new approach to security is in order. Symantec’s Norton 360 can cover school computers from all angles, including virus protection, online backup, a bootable recovery tool as well as a cool new rating of how risky the computer user has been. Its interface is easier to use and the program now works with all the major Web browsers rather than just Internet Explorer and Firefox. All told, it is a promising way to protect a district’s worth of computers, and the beta of Version 5 is now online for a tryout. It's all now available as a free download of the developmental beta.

Freebee Friday: Protecting Passwords

Power_graphics_processing_GPU_josh_davis_richard_boyd_091215AR065 Because privacy is critical to a district’s digital infrastructure, having strong passwords is crucial. A group at the Georgia Institute of Technology that includes Richard Boyd, Joshua Davis and Carl Mastrangelo used a bunch of inexpensive off-the-shelf graphics cards recently cracked typical eight character passwords in less than two hours. They think that a 12-character password is a good balance between security and convenience today. It would take them more than 17,000 years to break. Reading the report is a real eye-opener for any district IT administrator.

A Watchful Eye on the School

Logitech-alert-750e-outdoor-master-system Need help keeping an eye on things at school at night or over the weekend or holidays? Who doesn’t, but few districts can afford full-time security guards or burglar alarms. That’s where Logitech’s Alert 750i Master System comes in. It includes a small, easy-to-hide high definition video camera that sends its data over the school’s electrical wiring to a computer running included software. The camera can see in the dark and start recording whenever it senses motion, but the gem is the software, which can monitor several cameras at once and send text messages at the first hint of trouble. The kit costs $300 and there are extra cameras available for indoor or outdoor use.

Eye on Schools

Bl-c230a500 Need to keep an eye on a specific part of the school at night or weekends but don’t have the room for a bulky camera? Panasonic’s BL-C230A mini cube cam does as well but only takes up only 2.9- by 2.9- by 3.0-inches and weighs less than a pound. Despite its size, it’s capable of creating 640 by 480 pixel surveillance videos at 30 frames a second in full color with audio. It can even be set to start up based on detecting motion or sounds and transmits its video via the school’s WiFi or wired network. The best part is that if you see something on the edge of its field of view, you can pan or zoom to see whatever is there, even if it is a cat.

Face Time

D-link-doorphone To protect its children, just about every school keeps its front door locked these days, but has a doorbell and a remote electric lock to let visitors in. But, those in the front office can’t tell who’s at the door to decide who to let in. D-Link’s DWM-351 3G Door Phone combines a doorbell with a surveillance camera so those in the office can see who’s at the door and whether to let them in. The best part is that it directly replaces an existing doorbell and rather than having to run Ethernet cables to the door, the 3G Door Phone connects via the wireless phone network. It can capture and stream100,000 pixel images to a computer in the office or the cell phone of a security guard.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Tech Tools are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.