By Jeff Gallatin
City and school officials’ ability to blend their safety concerns into a “cutting edge” safety system for the North Olmsted school district is being brought into high resolution at a regional meeting July 31.
Organizers of the “Secure Our Children” school safety presentation in Middleburg Heights will highlight the security system currently being installed in the North Olmsted school district. The system utilizes a series of cameras located throughout the district schools and facilities to send video feeds to the system being installed in the North Olmsted police station. That system, in turn, will enable city safety forces to monitor all sites throughout the city – including the schools – where the cameras are located. Police and fire will be able to access those videos if they are responding to an emergency situation.
Scott Thomas, the city of North Olmsted safety/service director who has been a driving force in getting the system implemented, said it will provide vital information and cut crucial minutes off response times to emergency calls.
“It will allow us to see in much greater detail what is going on,” he said. “If we get a call about a problem at one of the schools, for example, we’ll be able to see what is happening. That means we will be able to see the video at the center and help direct operations from there, but with the system being put into place, the officers responding to the call will be able to call up the same video and see what is going on.”
Thomas said the information could provide the crucial edge in dealing with potential problems.
“We’ll be able to respond better to what the situation requires, because we’ll be able to see what is going on right at the scene even before we get there,” he said.
Thomas said having the video feeds also could help avert problems for police, fire and school officials.
“If we see a problem coming or the potential for one, we could respond and hopefully stop the problem from developing,” he said. “This will provide crucial extra time for us to learn about the situation and respond in the best way.”
Lisa Matthews, the marketing and communications coordinator for Audio Video Interiors and Safety Technologies, which is hosting the July 31 meeting, said a panel of security industry experts will present information on the technologies currently being deployed that aid in maintaining a secure environment at schools and other locations.
“The systems that will be demonstrated and offered as a case study provide comprehensive measures that ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff,” she said. “These cutting-edge solutions are being implemented locally and are influencing national directives.”
Doug Gambrell, the sales and project manager for Video Interiors and Safety Technologies, said the firm is advocating officials involved in school safety take a deliberate, planned approach to installing security systems.
“Many times schools will try to get projects done quickly in the summer months when no one’s around, and we’re advocating a deliberate approach,” he said. “For example, they might be doing some paving or blacktopping of a lot then. We would advocate that if a camera is going into the area at the lot, we’d advocate getting the line and equipment installed in the lot while the other project is going on, so they don’t have to tear it up later to install.”
Gambrell said North Olmsted has a high level of cooperation between the city and schools.
North Olmsted school officials said being able to utilize the security system being put into place by the city will provide additional layers of security for the district.
“We’ve been working closely with the city police and fire for many months on safety issues,” Terry Krivak, the interim superintendent of the North Olmsted City Schools.
“We’re fortunate because the schools and city have always had a strong relationship and working relationship, and this is one of the latest steps to strengthen that,” Krivak said.
Krivak noted the North Olmsted school board approved at its July 17 meeting the purchase and installation of video cameras on the district buses that transport children to and from school. He said installing cameras on all the buses cost about $30,000.
Michael McDade, the district’s business services manager, said getting the new video system installed will only cost several thousand dollars for the district.
“Our costs are relatively low because we will be attaching to the city server, which is already going to be in place,” he said. “We’ll have some costs for the cameras and other portions of the work for us. But it’s a major help that we won’t be putting in an entire new system for ourselves.”
McDade said the city has been adept at obtaining funds and support for its system, and noted the district also will be looking for funding and other ways to continue adding cameras and other technology to enhance its security.