The high crime rate in South Africa is leading to an increased concern around safety and security in schools and educational facilities. This is affecting many parents who send their children to school every day, says Laurence Smith, executive at Graphic Image Technologies.

As incidents at schools and educational facilities become increasingly common, pressure is placed on these schools to bolster their security, both on the premises and also on any school transport facilities. CCTV cameras with remote monitoring capabilities are essential tools to help schools improve the safety of students and teachers by deterring criminal activities, increasing peace of mind for all parties concerned.

The addition of CCTV cameras as part of overall security is not a new concept for schools. However, it is often challenging to implement efficiently and cost effectively, due to the specific conditions at educational facilities, most specifically the layout. While CCTV cameras installed in core areas — including the perimeter — can help to deter crime, the equipment needs to be hard cabled to a central Digital Video Recorder (DVR) or network point in order for it to function. With the large open areas that typically need to be covered in schools, this is an expensive task that requires significant effort and upheaval to achieve.

Remote monitoring is also an essential part of effective CCTV, but this too can be challenging in areas where fibre or ADSL connectivity are not available or are unreliable. Using mobile data to transmit footage is often not an option due to the expense involved, as typical CCTV solutions require large amounts of bandwidth to send video feeds to a central point. In addition, cameras are, for the most part, installed outside and are thus exposed to the elements, including lightning, which can potentially destroy not only the camera, but also any equipment connected to the same cabling.

Fortunately, technology is available to overcome these issues. The answer is found in a wireless, cloud-based CCTV solution that makes use of advanced technology to minimise the amount of bandwidth consumed. Making use of sophisticated, secure WiFi as well as mobile broadband, CCTV cameras can be wirelessly linked and can broadcast footage to a central control room.

To facilitate this, a dedicated wireless network and a DVR is set up along with cameras in each location to be monitored. Many small units, with short cables that run to the cameras, are all connected to a wireless network to broadcast to a central location for monitoring. This offers a number of benefits, including cost reduction as cabling does not need to be laid across the entire premises, as well as faster implementation and easy scalability and expansion capabilities. Cameras are networked wirelessly, preventing mass failure in the event of a lightning strike as only small camera runs are connected together via cabling, mitigating significant risk. In addition, during any renovation, the cameras can easily be moved to alternative locations, to ensure on-going security.

Using sophisticated technology, these solutions also consume minimal bandwidth – only 8 Kilobits per second (8kb/s) to view 4 Frames per Second (4f/s) of footage from offsite locations. This has a significant impact on lowering the operational cost of these CCTV solutions, and also enables monitoring of typically challenging areas such as buses on the move. Since the solution is wireless, and uses mobile bandwidth effectively, remote monitoring of school vehicles from the same control room that monitors perimeter and school security is possible, effective and affordable. Furthermore, due to the low bandwidth requirements, footage can be viewed on any number of different devices, including smartphones and tablets. Importantly, these technologies allow school security to proactively monitor the perimeter of the school and react to any incidents should they occur.

Security is increasingly becoming a top of mind concern for South African schools, and CCTV solutions are an essential component of a comprehensive security solution. However, in challenging environments such as large school campuses, this can be difficult to achieve cost effectively. Wireless CCTV networks utilising bandwidth-friendly technology enables full camera coverage, remote monitoring capabilities, and the ability to monitor school grounds, perimeters and even vehicles from a single, central location.