Why Community Colleges Should Move Video Surveillance to the Cloud

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Community colleges are unique in many ways among institutions of higher education. Not only do they educate students of all ages and interests, they’re also safe gathering places for community clubs, associations and faith-based organizations.

During the pandemic, they saw a spike in enrollment from students who didn’t want to travel from home or live in a dorm amid a global health crisis. Increased enrollment has led to growth for many community colleges, requiring them to build or acquire additional facilities and even satellite campuses to address the boom. And, while they’ve always been a smart economic choice, they could become even more affordable if Congress passes a proposal that includes free universal community college.

Open campuses, continued growth and inherent affordability are all cornerstones of today’s community colleges, and common scenarios for which Cloud technology is ideal.

However, the move to Cloud is happening slowly, according to SSI sister publication Campus Safety’s Video Surveillance Special Report published last fall. Of the 96% of readers who report having security cameras deployed on campus, just 31% are currently using Cloud technology to deliver video surveillance management. Almost an equal number or respondents, 28%, currently only allow video monitoring directly on-premises, and many of the current Cloud users are only doing so on a very limited basis.

We’re seeing this changing.

As the benefits of Cloud computing become more widely understood, we expect the move to the Cloud at community colleges to accelerate, as it has elsewhere. After all, most community colleges are already using the Cloud for other mission-critical applications, such as  learning management, student information and mass communication systems.

In actuality, Cloud technology is ideal for community college security, as it solves many of the problems not addressed by traditional on-premises systems. And the total cost of ownership of a Cloud system is much lower than an on-premises video surveillance system. Here are eight ways the Cloud can help community colleges economically keep assets secure and students, staff and visitors safe.

1) Remote Management

A Cloud video management system (VMS) enables you to manage your system remotely and quickly search, fast forward, reverse and play back video. In addition, you can track user activity, delegate and revoke user access, and manage multiple cameras and locations –  from your main campus to satellite facilities – all from a single interface on your mobile or web browser.

2) Up-to-Date Software

With the Cloud, you get continuous delivery of cybersecurity updates and software enhancements, ensuring you’re always using the latest version of software, as well as reducing demands on community college IT staff.

3) Limited On-Premises Hardware Saves Space

Very few campuses have the space to rack, stack and manage unwieldy on-premises equipment. A true Cloud-based VMS provides local buffering, bandwidth management and secure transport of video to the Cloud with a single onsite device. So, no networking expertise, router configuration or software installation is required by the end user. In addition, your IT team doesn’t need to manage the ongoing items associated with on-prem systems, such as getting static IP addresses, license keys, DDNS or VPN configurations, disk space, hardware failures, backups and O/S upgrades.

4) Video Sharing

Community college leaders understand the need to react swiftly to unfolding events. Cloud technology can help improve emergency response times by enabling you to give real-time security camera access to predesignated first responders, including campus security, local police, county sheriff and your local fire department.

A Cloud system that supports rapid camera sharing with authorized users and first responders offers an efficient and easy way to improve response times, mitigate loss, and quickly address other campus issues.

5) Built-in Cybersecurity

Your student data is as valuable as gold, and therefore, extremely attractive to hackers. For most video systems, internet connectivity puts the confidentiality, integrity and availability of this data at risk because most systems don’t have built-in protections against cyberattacks. Thus, many video systems are defenseless, even though cybersecurity attacks are on the rise.

True Cloud systems come with cybersecurity built in, including features such as:

  • Strong encryption, keeping video private and secure
  • Constant monitoring against threats
  • No open ports or onsite firewalls, which are classic entry points for cybercriminals
  • Triple redundant storage to ensure data protection and durability
  • Two-factor authentication, limiting access to only trusted devices

6) Scalability

Adding locations and cameras, increasing the number of users, adjusting camera resolution and extending video retention periods are just some of the reasons community colleges need a scalable solution. Traditional on-premises VMS systems make it difficult to do this. Conversely, Cloud-based solutions are designed to be scalable. With a true Cloud system, it’s easy to centralize your video surveillance across multiple locations, add and delete users, and adjust retention (how long you want to keep your video), and what resolution you want – in real time. And, you can make changes to any single camera at any time.

7) Analytics

Artificial Intelligence (AI) for video surveillance uses software applications to analyze the audio and video from cameras to recognize humans, objects, vehicles, events and more. Video analytics analyze the data from your video source and correlate it with the scenarios and models you’ve set up for it to detect.

For example, you can set up your system to send you an alert when an intruder or vehicle enters a restricted area. And these analytics are smart enough to know the difference between branches blowing in the wind and an actual person breaking into a building. Commonly available Cloud VMS analytics include People Counting, Line Crossing, Loitering and Camera Tampering.

8) Alerts

With Cloud technology, you can get alerted immediately via text message or email when there’s a crowd gathering in the main quad, the cafeteria is beyond capacity or a car is unlawfully parked. The cameras watch for you and alert you when there’s something important to see. In addition, it enables you to tailor motion alerts for certain cameras and regions.

Camera motion regions have independent motion settings, alert levels and recipients. And you can easily and instantly activate analytics on your cameras without having to install additional hardware or software. No on-site technicians or system upgrades are needed to immediately receive analytic alerts and data. You don’t have to wait a day or two to know an event happened – instead, you can be alerted and respond right away.

Community colleges that desire to remain a safe gathering place for their community, while honoring their affordable education legacy, will greatly benefit from a Cloud-based video management system.

Terry Schulenburg is the enterprise sales manager at Eagle Eye Networks. This article first appeared on SSI sister publication Campus Safety

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