Reading School District: An MV Case Study

How MV cameras helped a school district make its security more dependable for students and staff

With locations all across the city of Reading, Pennsylvania, the Reading School District is one of the largest in the region. The hallways in the high school alone span an impressive five miles. This sheer physical size, coupled with over 18,000 students and 2,000 faculty and staff across the district, make apparent how challenging — and crucial — it is to ensure the safety of these individuals.

“The goal for us is… to make sure that every individual in this building feels safe… And they know that we’re on top of every situation that could arise in the building.” – Eric Turman, Reading High School Principal

CTO Jeff Haas and his colleagues knew precisely what their security objectives were, but they found the challenges were mounting. Their existing camera system was highly failure-prone, often lost footage, and was so cumbersome that training new team members was hugely time consuming. With a 15-person security team and a lean IT squad to manage all of this, the district knew it was time to evaluate alternative solutions.

Original Challenges:

  • Ensure the necessary infrastructure was in place for just 15 guards to secure all 18,000 students and 2,000 faculty members, making them feel safe and comfortable while in the schools.
  • With their traditional security camera solution, all camera footage was stored on an NVR. If one hard drive failed, it would crash a unit of 20+ cameras, with no way to alert them that cameras had gone down.
  • With no way to identify that cameras were offline, it was often only discovered that they hadn’t been recording when footage was requested to review an important incident.
  • When cameras went down, they relied on their installer to come on site and assist with the repair process, delaying fixes and keeping their cameras offline longer.
  • Due to the complexity of the video management software, members of their security team could not  easily access feeds or footage, and training new team members was complicated and time consuming.

“Typically, when one hard drive would die, it would take the whole unit down — that was about 20 cameras we would lose. And that’s just not appropriate.” – CR Hiestand, Network and Systems Administrator

The Meraki Camera Deployment:

  • ~400 cameras were deployed across five sites, with standardization across the district planned.
  • A combination of MV12, MV21, and MV71 cameras were used to provide coverage both indoors and outdoors.
  • Just one team member — CR Hiestand, Network and Systems Administrator at Reading School District — was initially trained to use the camera tools in dashboard, he was then able to train other members of the IT and Security teams.
  • Security and administrative users were assigned particular camera-permissions, based on the requirements of their role.
  • Without having to rely on NVRs, Meraki cameras were deployed and online extremely quickly.

“Now that we’re on the MV platform, training has been a lot simpler than what it needed to be previously. We’ve done one training session, and I was able to cover all the features.” – CR Hiestand, Network and Systems Administrator

The Results:

  • The small security team at Reading School District provides a more secure and safe learning environment for the district.
  • Security team members can more effectively monitor different sites in case of a crucial event.
  • Rather than having multiple cameras crash at a time, failure is always limited to a single camera, and the IT team is alerted when a camera goes down so there is never a loss in coverage.
  • Everyone at Reading School District who required camera access was trained in just a few minutes to access video streams, historical feeds, and camera analytics — a dramatic drop in the time and resources required to onboard users.
  • The district’s IT team is able to govern camera access for different users more effectively.
  • With the success they’ve had at the deployed locations, Reading School District is planning to triple the number of cameras they have deployed in the next few years.

Have a story you’d like to share with us about how you’ve used MV cameras? We’d love to hear it on the Meraki Community!