Case Study: Laredo Independent School District Implements Innovative Video Solutions

27 Oct 2015 by Andrea Winkle

Insight strives to enrich the lives of — and protect — tomorrow’s leaders

Monitors in the Laredo ISD Police emergency response center

Monitors in the Laredo ISD Police emergency response center, where all camera feeds are monitored. Individual campuses are also equipped with a single LCD display that allows campus administrators to monitor their own camera feeds.

The Laredo Independent School District (LISD) is made up of 32 educational institutions: 20 elementary schools, four middle schools, four high schools, one alternative education campus and three magnet schools. Established in 1882, the LISD has a yearly average of 25,000 enrolled students and more than 4,500 employees, all striving for academic excellence. Within the LISD, 97 percent of the students in the district qualify for free and reduced lunch and 64 percent are limited in English proficiency.

Security and Surveillance

Monitoring the safety of their students, faculty and staff is not only a top priority for LISD, it’s also a major challenge. Boasting such a large population, it’s not uncommon to deal with a variety of threats – from minor issues like bullying, theft and truancy; to major threats like shootings and gang violence.

Initially, the LISD had disparate surveillance systems at its various campuses and not every campus had cameras. In the absence of unified monitoring and recording surveillance devices, the district oftentimes found themselves without any supporting evidence needed to successfully try cases and/or prosecute the perpetrators.

Solution

Insight and Cisco presented LISD with a single, comprehensive solution: Cisco’s PhySec (Physical Security) products, combining video surveillance, access control, incident detection and response devices. The single, centralized system proved to be more cost effective than purchasing and maintaining disparate systems at each school. Training and support are also more cost effective because every campus has the same system and these activities can be centralized and supported by the local IT staff.

The school district police department now has a centralized solution where they can view and monitor any camera in the district. In addition, campus administration and others with the need to know can view and monitor cameras and go back to archival video when incidents occur. Consequently, the LISD can use this system to help them defend legal challenges.

Results

  • 1,400+ cameras installed at more than 30 locations
  • Improved protection for every LISD campus plus some administrative
  • The district can use their new video surveillance system to help them defend legal challenges

Expanding Students’ Horizons

Budgetary restraints, a lack of travel funds and the LISD’s isolated location in South Texas on the Mexico border, made it difficult for students to travel or experience much outside of their region. Although LISD had a general knowledge of certain benefits of video conferencing, they were not aware of the broad scope of available opportunities. Partnering with Tandberg, Insight provided LISD with examples of and what other school districts in the country were doing. Tandberg’s video conferencing solutions demonstrated to LISD how cutting edge video technology could benefit students, faculty and district employees. This helped the district establish a vision for what they wanted for their students.

Solution

Video cameras, monitors, content servers and a centralized MCU (Multipoint Control Unit) were soon in place and ready to go at all LISD campuses. Video-based training was provided by Tandberg, demonstrating how teachers could integrate video conferencing into their curriculum to enrich their students’ education experience. Almost immediately, LISD students, teachers and employees were tapping into this valuable resource and added learning channel.

Video conferencing offered students many new experiences and cultural exchanges – right from their classroom and with no travel expenses. Subsidized federal funding through the E-Rate program would slash the out-of-pocket expense for the district by approximately 70 percent.

Results

Students can now:

  • Virtually visit and interact with other classrooms in a variety of cities, states and countries, and enjoy cultural exchanges with the students — all without having to leave the classroom.
  • Take video field trips to historical attractions and points of interest around the world.
  • Incorporate math problem-solving skill into these trips, calculating how many miles they had "travelled."
  • Utilize virtual passports to track all places visited, and receive rewards for the most stamps.
  • Broadcast events like graduation to family and friends unable to attend in person, including those in the military.
  • Virtually explore potential college campuses, without incurring out-of-pocket travel expenses.

Faculty and employees are able to:

  • Utilize video conferencing technology to attend district-wide meetings, with no mileage expense or travel costs.
  • Virtually participate in staff development programs.
  • Conduct interviews virtually with potential LISD teachers and staff.
  • Receive video-based training to stay on top of their new technology.