Axis Communications and Swinburne University have partnered with integrator Omnivision to install refurbished Axis cameras and a Milestone XProtect Professional VMS at Kew East Primary School in Melbourne. 

AFTER a number of incidents involving vandalism and graffiti in and out of school time, Kew East Primary School in Melbourne needed to enhance its level of security. But according to Manoj Jayasuriya, MD at Melbourne-based integrator Omnivision, while Kew East Primary needed to enhance its security there was very little budget to get the job done. 

What this meant was that it was going to take something special to meet the school’s needs. That special something was a coincidence that saw Axis Communications begin an initiative to offer its refurbished CCTV cameras to government primary schools at the same time Jayasuriya’s Omnivision team was undertaking a camera upgrade at Swinburne University – a site with more than 500 Axis cameras. 

“While we were working on this job, a friend who is on the school council advised me that Kew East Primary School was planning to put some cameras in but the school do not have the money to do it,” explains Jayasuriya. 

“I had a meeting with Helen Fotheringham, Kew East Primary School’s principal and she confirmed that while the school could not afford CCTV, parents from the school council were trying to collect money to pay for the project. 

“At the same time, the Omnivision team was doing a camera upgrade project at Swinburne University,” Jayasuriya says. “So I asked Swinburne University’s security coordinator Robert Stockini and IT security officer Chris Goetze what they were planning to do with the CCTV cameras that were being replaced.  

“They told me Swinburne was planning to give the cameras back to Axis Communications so they could be refurbished and donated to government schools across Melbourne. This was great news for me and I asked them if they would donate 13 cameras to Kew East Primary School. 

“A week later, Swinburne associate director Kain Jarvis approved this donation and my business partners agreed to undertake the installation to help the school. I was able to give this good news to the principal and promise her we would do the installation at cost,” Jayasuriya says. “Credit goes to Robert, Chris and Kain from Swinburne University for donating the cameras to Kew Primary School and to the Axis Communications’ team, which was a great help when it came to refurbishing the cameras.”

As well as integrating cameras, NVR and workstations, Omnivision, which has grown from a 3-man operation in 2000 to a full electronic security systems integrator in 2014, also designed Kew East Primary School’s CCTV system. 

“The Kew East Primary network switch was provided by the school, we sourced the XProtect Professional VMS from Milestone and the Axis 216FD-V IP vandal and 225FD external dome cameras were donated by Swinburne University,” Jayasuriya explains. “All individual cameras connect to a Cisco network switch in each building. The school buildings are linked by a fibre network, which made it easier for us to complete the installation in an efficient and cost effective way.” 

According to Jayasuriya, although the system is relatively simple, Kew Primary School’s IT team was a great help and provided access to each building’s network switch, as well as space in comms room racks for the NVR.

“I had a meeting with Helen Fotheringham, Kew East Primary School’s principal and she confirmed that while the school could not afford CCTV, parents from the school council were trying to collect money to pay for the project”

Schools are reasonably busy environments during school hours and in some instances, electronic security installations need to be installed out of hours. But at Kew Primary School the system was integrated during school hours and the process was relatively quick. 

“We had 2 techs working on this project for a period of about a week,” Jayasuriya explains. “One is an installation tech and the other is an IT tech. There was nothing unusual in terms of communications paths and the fact the school provided the network backbone and switch made things quicker for our team.” 

As is often the case with jobs in the public domain there was a relatively long lead time. The first discussions took place in late March 2013 and cameras were given to Axis and refurbished shortly after. After council approval for school installation, the donation of cameras and their installation took place in September 2013.  

Driving the system

Milestone’s XProtect VMS supports the Kew Primary School system. The smart client interface gives users management of live and recorded video, as well as control of cameras and integrated security devices. Key features of Milestone’s VMS include things like a multi-layered map function allowing users to manage cameras and security devices, and overlay buttons that intuitively control cameras, camera integrated devices and connected systems via camera views. There’s also a virtual joystick allowing easy PTZ control. 

Other neat Milestone features include a single-point alarm management function, the ability to bookmark video sequences with attached notes, independent playback while viewing live video and multi-screen handling incorporating floating windows across multiple screens. Something else the system will do is email authorised users if it’s running out of recording space or there are critical failures. 

The system offers sequence explorer, which shows previews of recorded video sequences as time-based groups of drag-and-throw thumbnails that allow management to easily locate specific events during investigations. Useful for police are advanced export options with digital signature, as well as the XProtect Smart Client Player, which includes room for commentary.

Refurbishing the cameras

According to Axis Communications country manager ANS, Wai King Wong, after Swinburne Uni announced the upgrade of their old generation of cameras, he asked what the plan was with the old units. Swinburne was about to recycle and dispose of the cameras but Wong suggested they instead be refurbished and donated to schools.

“In the case of Kew Primary School, Swinburne University donated the 216FD and 225FD cameras and our Axis staff refurbished the units and together with Omnivision handed the equipment to the school,” explains Wong. “Integrator Omnivision then completed the installation and commissioning.”

The Axis 216FD-V used at Kew East Primary School is an internal vandal resistant dome running a ¼-inch progressive scan CMOS. It has a 2.8–10mm varifocial lens, a field of view from 20– 73 degrees and a minimum scene illumination of 1 lux at F1.3. MPEG-4 resolution is VGA 640 x 480 at 30ips and the 216 has good image setting adjustments, duplex audio streaming and plenty more. 

Externally, the Kew East Primary School system is running the Axis 225FD, which has a ¼-inch progressive scan CCD sensor and advanced image processing. There’s a viewing angle of 36-75 degrees, PoE, vandal resistance, 30ips at VGA, and multi-window motion detection with alarm image buffering. Minimum scene illumination is 1 lux at F1.4 in colour and 0.4 lux at F1.4 in monochrome. Like the 216, the 225 is fully loaded with all the image processing and network capability that was available at the time of its release. 

While it’s not common for cameras to be refurbished after being swapped out, quality units like the Axis 225 and 216 are perfectly capable of working for many years longer than projected MTBF – especially if they are given a tidy up. In this case, Chris Tangsilsat, Michael Pazarcevic and the Axis Inside Sales team did a full number on the Swinburne University cameras to ensure they were ready for service. The 216FD and 225FD cameras were brought back to Axis’ Melbourne office where they were cleaned of dirt and grime, and checked for scratches and any other physical damage or imperfections that might impact on performance.

“Some housings were replaced with new units and some bubbles were inspected for clarity and if required, they were replaced,” says Wong. “Any missing accessories such as mounting screws or conduit termination plugs were replaced and each unit was powered up and its image quality was verified to ensure there were no imperfections with optics. The firmware was then updated to the latest version and finally the cameras were test-run for 24 hours.”

End user perspective

Principal of Kew East Primary School, Helen Fotheringham manages a busy campus with a total of 460 students and 46 staff. According to Fotheringham, the pre-loved Axis cameras are used for security purposes both in and out of school time to curb vandalism, such as graffiti. 

“From Kew East Primary School’s perspective, the system is meant to reduce incidents of vandalism and graffiti around the school and the most important functional capabilities the system gives us include reviewing incidents and saving images for police to follow up,” Fotheringham says. 

“In the main, our experience with the CCTV installation has been good and Victoria Police have been keen to take copies of our video footage.” 

According to Fotheringham, management of the system is handled by the school principal and the school’s ICT technician, with workstations running a Milestone client operating in the principal’s office and the ICT office. Operation of the Kew East Primary School system is easy in terms of access and reviewing events, Fotheringham says, though having never used a VMS before, she finds saving footage of events more challenging. 

Cameras have already captured a number of incidents of vandalism but so far footage captured has not allowed face recognition. This is typical with a modest installation like this one, which combines small cameras numbers with serious depths of field, comparatively wide camera angles, modest camera resolutions and a 24-hour threat profile. 

So far, events have taken place too far from cameras (outside their best depth of field), away from best camera coverage, or after dark. Such issues are inevitable for any surveillance system on any site, let alone a school campus and Omnivision and Axis Communications are working with Kew East Primary to tweak the system to meet its specific challenges. 

In a world where fiscal considerations take precedence over social capital, it’s too easy to get caught up in the commercial spin cycle. This global hunger for short term gain makes it all the more heartening to see end users, manufacturers and integrators working together to improve the safety and security of our kids. Nicely done, Axis Communications, Omnivision and Swinburne University. 

By John Adams

 

“From Kew East Primary School’s perspective, the system is meant to reduce incidents of vandalism and graffiti around the school and the most important functional capabilities the system gives us include reviewing incidents and saving images for police”