How Samsung Helped This Philly School Resolve Video Challenges and Cut Costs

Access Security Corp. designed and installed a new security system for the Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School consisting of three different Samsung surveillance cameras to help improve school security.

CI Staff

The Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School (PPACS) is a K-12, tuition-free, public charter school whose mission is to make the arts the catalyst for learning as students are primed to successfully meet future academic and social challenges.

PPACS opened its first school in South Philadelphia in September 2000, and has added two more locations in the last three years as a result of the large number of students that have applied to the school.

Because the first of these newer locations — situated across the street from the original PPCAS building — had previously been a school, preparing and moving into the building was relatively easy. That process has been a bit more complicated with the most recent building PPCAS acquired, a high-rise downtown that formerly housed the corporate headquarters of pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.

Acquired in 2013, the eight-story, 260,000-square-foot building is in the final stages of its conversion from corporate offices to an educational institution. Because of its sheer size, which makes it impossible for staff to be everywhere within the facility, and its downtown location, it was clear that the school would need to install a video surveillance system.

PPACS found that GlaxoSmithKline had left behind a number of surveillance cameras; however, much of the cabling and wiring had been cut when the company exited the premises. PPCAS determined that the best approach would be to discard whatever remained of the previous system and start from scratch.

Since the Samsung system was installed, PPCAS been able to clearly view 12 to 16 incidents caught on the Samsung cameras.
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The school chose Access Security Corp. of Warminster, Pa., to handle the design and installation of the system. PPCAS Director of Facilities & Security Tom Corosanite and Daniel Cogan, Access Security’s president, reviewed blueprints for the renovation and discussed specific areas throughout the building where video coverage would be needed to determine the number and location of cameras.

“The goal was to have as many cameras as our budget would allow at the time to try to cover as much of the building as possible, and being in one of the many high-profile buildings in Center City, we also wanted to secure the perimeter of the building,” Corosanite says.

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Access Security works with a lot of schools, but this particular project presented several challenges, particularly given the school’s parking garage and location, Cogan says.

“Most schools don’t have parking garages, allowing for open space around their buildings,” he says. “But this is a downtown high-rise where anyone can walk right up to the doors, creating a real challenge with securing the perimeter.”

Cogan eventually decided that Samsung Techwin cameras would be the best fit based on camera quality, the ability to work with a variety of VMS platforms from multiple vendors and competitive pricing.

For interior cameras, Access Security deployed Samsung SNV-6013 1080p vandal-resistant mini-dome network cameras and Samsung SND-6084 1080p interior dome cameras with varifocal lens. The external cameras are Samsung SNV-7084 3-megapixel, vandal-resistant outdoor dome cameras. Video from all cameras feeds into a single custom NVR equipped with 30TB of storage to allow video to be retained for 30 days.

Bringing cameras online in phases as they were installed allowed Access Security to ensure that PPCAS was an active participant in the installation process.

“We didn’t want them to have to wait two months for all those cameras to be installed before seeing how the system was going to work. Within days, they started to see cameras installed and coming online,” Cogan says. “That way, they could provide input and feedback on the system earlier in the process.”

Configuring and fine-tuning each of the nearly 130 cameras manually could easily have been a time- and labor-intensive process, but because Samsung cameras provide an easy-to-use autofocus feature, that was a nonissue, Cogan explains.

“The autofocus feature adjusts the focus with just a couple of buttons,” he says.

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Since deployment of the system, PPACS has realized additional benefits, one of which was a significant savings in staffing costs thanks to the performance of the cameras.

“Over a 10-year period, I expect we may be able to save as much as three-quarters of a million dollars that could be repurposed to serve other priorities,” Corosanite says.

Additionally, the Samsung cameras have proven tremendously helpful in investigating and resolving a number of situations where low-quality video simply would not have sufficed. “Since the system was installed, we have had — and this is no exaggeration — 12 to 16 incidents where we really needed those cameras watching what happened,” Corosanite says.

This case study originally appeared on sister site Security Sales & Integration.