Access Control, Door Monitoring and High-Quality Video Cameras Create Safer Environment and Centralized Control for Sprawling Colorado School District
Eagle County Schools is nestled in the valley along the Eagle River in Colorado. The District spans 45 miles from Vail down to Gypsum and includes 16 schools and 1,000 staff members that serve 7,000 students.
In 2016, the district successfully passed a multi-year $143M bond to update facilities, technology and infrastructure. Eagle County hired Fred Voseipka of RLH Engineering to be an Owner’s Representative to shepherd the large project from planning to completion. Voseipka worked closely with Todd Shahan, Chief Technology Officer for Eagle County Schools on the component of the project to improve security infrastructure at the district. Inteconnex responded to the request for proposal (RFP) and was ultimately selected for the security project.
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Though Eagle County Schools is in one the most beautiful ski destinations of Colorado, Shahan said that schools in the area are underfunded and budget-constrained. “Even though we have wealthy residents, for many of them, this is their second home-their children don’t attend school in our area. A large majority of our families are working class, they are in service businesses supporting the tourism industry. We attempted to pass a bond back in 2012 but it failed to get support. We were pleased to get support for this bond to upgrade our district’s facilities and technology.”
Eagle County Schools was faced with aging buildings and infrastructure. “We had an outdated security system in our buildings-for entry, we had an old Schlage system and an old camera system. Both were very out of date. We wanted to have an updated, more sophisticated system for every school: door access, door monitors and video cameras. My goal was to be able to stand proud of what we had chosen, to stand in front of community members and the School Board that we not only met their expectations, we had exceeded them in terms of capabilities and investment.”
Specifically, Eagle County wanted staff to be able to manage doors and cameras in multiple buildings from a central location and improve security measures in all buildings. “Equity is a big thing in schools-across the district-not to favor one school/community/age group over another. One of the major goals of this piece of the larger project was that every school would receive equal systems and that we could scale accordingly,” said Shahan. He continued, “We wanted the system to be consistent across the entire district-before we had multiple, disparate systems and that was a nightmare to utilize and maintain.”
Voseipka concurred, “We were looking for a base system that we could update and expand on as the district grows. We needed something up-to-date; new technology that would include quality cameras and centralized door access and monitoring.”
Voseipka said that a quality solution and vendor “needed to be able to deliver good software that was robust and could handle card readers from 16 different schools and report back to the headend for centralized access by administration. Additionally, we needed the camera system to provide quality views at each location and provide information back to a main computer with 30 days-worth of recording.”
Inteconnex won the bid to provide Eagle County Schools with access control, door monitoring and video surveillance using Avigilon systems. Initially, it was the capabilities of the Avigilon products that caught Shahan’s attention. “Avigilon brought to the table things we hadn’t ever seen like facial recognition and the ability to read license plates. The system has many capabilities even if we are not using all of them today. I like that it all ties into one system-doors, monitoring and cameras with one interface that could meet all our needs.”
Inteconnex installed card access systems for the district replacing the antiquated traditional keys they had before. “People would lose keys and we would have to re-key locks. That is time consuming and expensive. So with card access, we can just turn off a card and re-issue one. That results in cost saving and better security-we have better control over who has access to the building. We can also tailor access by user and remotely control access to buildings,” Shahan said.
The new Avigilon HD camera system gives the district peace of mind and foundation on which to grow. Shahan shared, “The Valley has low crime, but we are not immune-we wanted better surveillance. We wanted security that we could actually use successfully and that was flexible to current needs and could grow over time. Also, we live in a litigious society so it’s good to be able to record events for future playback/review. With the new camera system, we wanted quality video and accessibility across the district. For example if the superintendent wanted to view various buildings from his office. We don’t currently have a centralized security department at this point, so oftentimes it’s the secretary or administrator managing it for each building. Therefore, the system has to be intuitive and easy to access.”
One of the major pieces of the security improvement project at Eagle County Schools was installing door monitoring systems for each of the buildings. This system allows administration to know the status of each door in a facility from a centralized location. “Before when we would go into a lockdown situation, we had to round up staff to physically go around to check all the doors-it would take 20 minutes. A lot can happen in that time. This was a big consideration when we were looking at systems-what system can tell us whether a door is open or closed? The system Inteconnex installed is easy to use-it has our floor plan with green or red dots for open/closed doors. This new system gives us proactive alerts and the ability to address issues. Additionally, cross platform compatibility was key for our situation: Mac, PC, Chromebook and mobile application and not all vendors could accommodate this request.”
Inteconnex also helped Eagle County Schools improve the process for admitting visitors to the schools. “In all buildings, we installed sally ports (two doors to go through)-visitors have to be buzzed in. These two-tiered secure entryways were not in the original RFP or plan. Inteconnex suggested them to help us meet security guidelines and improve the security of our buildings,” said Shahan.
The key benefit to the security solutions Inteconnex has implemented at Eagle County Schools is improved safety and monitoring via a convenient, centralized interface. “We can control and monitor access to our buildings without putting additional burden on already taxed administration and staff,” said Shahan.
Inteconnex has proven to be more of a security partner than a vendor for Shahan and Eagle County Schools. “Inteconnex has stepped up and done a good job. I would recommend them to another school district. They aren’t trying to constantly upsell but simply use their expertise to make us aware of various options that improve the security of our district. Inteconnex is a good vendor and wants the best for our students and district.”
When it comes to security, Shahan believes, “more is better-what’s reasonable within the budget to meet the needs we have and get most we can for the money we are spending. Having these security tools is a deterrent-if it prevents one incident, it’s worth the investment.”
Of course, the more money that Eagle County Schools has, the more security systems they can implement to keep the students and staff safe. School budgets are tight and so have to be managed carefully. If you would like to learn more about how you can financially support Eagle County Schools and other schools, then visit the GoFundMe website.
Inteconnex was initially selected by Eagle County based on price, presence in Colorado and the ability to provide the high-quality Avigilon products the district required to deliver a superior level of security for its students and facilities. Throughout the course of the project, Inteconnex routinely demonstrated expertise and forethought that established them as a trusted security advisor to Eagle County Schools.
“Todd Ritchie, our Inteconnex sales rep is responsive to our needs and did a good job of explaining options. He provided sample video shots to help us make the camera purchase decision,” Shahan said. “In addition, Inteconnex made recommendations on top of the original proposal. They used their knowledge to expand and refine the scope of the project to best meet our security goals while staying within our budget.”
Voseipka praised Inteconnex for the team’s professionalism and responsiveness. “They had a tough road to hoe-we selected them late in an already compact schedule where we were trying to accomplish everything over the summer break. Inteconnex was very responsive and organized. I appreciate how they came forward and helped get the job done,” said Voseipka.
Inteconnex is the leading security innovator for northern Colorado and southern Wyoming. The company, originally founded in the Midwest, expanded into the Rocky Mountain region to design and install comprehensive security environments with customized and fully-networked capability for businesses in the area. The highly trained staff at Inteconnex has roots in information technology, providing customers with unrivaled technical expertise, service and the highest performing systems for today’s increasingly complex and networked world of advanced security.
I appreciated the unique approach Inteconnex took with updating our access control system. They leveraged our IT infrastructure to develop a smarter, more secure solution-one that will grow and adapt with our organization. Their technical expertise and customer support are beyond compare.– Rod McCool, Director of Security, Mercy Medical Center