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Buffalo Public School District improves security and simplifies infrastructure with advanced i-PRO cameras and recorders


Updating to 360° Fisheye and multi-sensor surveillance cameras expands coverage with half the equipment while custom recording software addresses BPSD’s specific requirements

Buffalo Public Schools
New York
Solution category
  • Education

The Customer

The Buffalo Public School District (BPSD) serves 28,000 K-12 students and operates out of 70 facilities in western New York. For over a decade, Security System Engineer John Waterhouse has overseen the security hardware in all 70 locations, including more than 5,000 security cameras, recorders, monitors, PCs, intrusion systems, card access systems, and intercom systems.

The Challenge

The district had a solid camera/network video recorder (NVR) infrastructure at every facility that served them well for decades, but as camera technology advanced and their recording platform provider stopped supporting the product, Waterhouse took the opportunity to modernize their approach.

“We had 5,000 cameras that were 10-15 years old,” he explained. “Many were Panasonic cameras that were extremely reliable, so we needed to move to a platform that would be compatible with these older cameras while enabling us to move into the future as well.”

The Solution

BPSD took advantage of smart bond funding available to school districts to fund the project and undertook an extensive study to weigh enterprise-wide options, determining that the camera/NVR infrastructure actually served their needs and budgets best. “Panasonic had served us so well for so long, we opted to go with a fully i-PRO solution” as Panasonic’s surveillance camera division became i-PRO, an independent company, in 2021.

BPSD modernized the entire district’s security footprint by first replacing 2% of their older interior PTZ cameras with i-PRO 5MP fisheye network cameras with 360° coverage while swapping out their obsolete recorders with i-PRO NX300 NVRs. Through several phases, they upgraded 15% and then a further 60% of their older cameras with new i-PRO vandal-resistant dome cameras, additional 360° fisheye cameras, and strategically placed multi-sensor cameras for building exteriors and common gathering places. Additional NVRs were upgraded to the newest i-PRO NX400 recorders running i-PRO ASM300 monitoring software.

The cameras are connected at a HUB site consisting of 10 schools via a 10 GB link for each school. The HUB is connected in a ring formation running at 40 GB. Each school location has a main office PC and a security PC running ASM300 for real-time monitoring. There are also additional PC locations at each school to allow school staff to conveniently monitor the system as required. A main location includes several PCs watching over the entire district and supplies technical support and archiving of footage as needed.

Wider coverage with half the footprint

Rapid advancements in camera technology prompted Waterhouse to extend their initial modernization project to include cameras as well as new recording systems, primarily because certain camera deployments were limited in their field of view, causing security teams to miss some events and incidents.

Said Waterhouse, “When you have PTZs on a pre-programmed tour they just move along. An incident can happen in one or two seconds, and the system can easily miss it. Since we didn’t have dedicated resources to control the old PTZs, we elected to replace them with fisheye cameras recording in 360 degrees. They capture an event wherever it happens. That’s the biggest benefit and it works better in a school environment where SROs (school resource officers) focus on being present on the grounds. Feedback from across the district has been extremely positive. Our teams love the i-PRO cameras.”

Another advantage of updating to i-PRO fisheye cameras was that in hallways where schools had two cameras, they were able to replace them with a single camera. “Reducing camera count was a huge benefit not only for our budget but in terms of maintenance, too,” Waterhouse said.

The school security officers also responded well to the in-camera de-warping feature which delivers clear fisheye, panoramic and de-warped images with an electrical pan-tilt-zoom. “The built-in de-warping gives our teams a lot of flexibility when reviewing video,” he noted.

Customizing a solution specifically for BPSD

While BPSD’s budget and requirements made a camera / NVR solution a better fit than an enterprise-wide solution, working closely with i-PRO and integration partner Linstar, the District was able to customize the i-PRO ASM 300 software to give them some enterprise-like advantages.

ASM300 Buffalo Public School District map

ASM300 E District map

“I wanted one monitoring point for the hardware – everything from all of our ASM 300 software instances in a one-map scenario,” said Waterhouse. “To do that I had to accommodate a lot of maps and users. i-PRO was really flexible and supportive of our needs. We worked on adding groups and maps to the software so we could have more than the standard offering. Now we can do up to 500 maps on our system. Each floor is a map with cameras. A lot of people in our district are more picture-oriented, so having maps with cameras makes it much easier for people to navigate to them.”

ASM300 Bennett High School 1st floor map

ASM300 Operational map

Waterhouse also pointed to a critical but important benefit to modernizing with a solution that builds in cyber-security by design. “The district recently had a ransomware attack, and the i-PRO cameras and recording system were immune to the attack. It performed flawlessly throughout the event.”

Looking ahead, Waterhouse anticipates taking advantage of some of the advanced edge-based AI analytics offered in the i-PRO cameras. “Object recognition, gunshot detection -- it all depends on what the district decides to pursue. We’re getting demonstrations of what the software can do now. The important thing is, we know the capabilities are there with i-PRO. It’s just a matter of what we want and how we get there.”