A question that we often face is about planning the CCTV system for schools. When a new school is being constructed or an existing school is being renovated, a CCTV system needs to be planned. We have planned and installed CCTV systems in many schools and have the benefit of seeing them work over a period of time. This article will summarise our experience and views on the same.
Are CCTV cameras mandatory in schools?
While the CBSE affiliation bye laws themselves are silent on the topic of CCTV, they do mention several indirect points connected to the topic of safety. The bye laws direct schools to follow the National Building Code and the School Safety Policy issued by the National Disaster Management Authority, along with a few other relevant policies and documents. These codes and guidelines, and state laws make it mandatory to have CCTV coverage in ‘vulnerable areas’ of schools, however, that is no guideline that all areas, including classrooms need to be covered.
Should schools have CCTV camera’s inside classrooms?
This is a much debated topic. In most organizations, employees do not like being directly monitored by CCTV while doing their work. In a classroom with only 1 teacher, the teacher feels directly monitored and feels it is an invasion of her/his privacy. It restricts their freedom to run their classes as they wish and the culture then lacks trust. On the other hand, school administration often feels that having a CCTV camera in the classroom will ensure safety and security of students. One view on this is the following:
- In cities and developed areas where the staff is well qualified, trained and motivated, it is better to avoid CCTV cameras in the classrooms. If we can’t trust our teachers, who can we trust then? Students in classrooms are monitored by teachers, and they too deserve that much freedom to negotiate their time with their peers without constantly being monitored.
- In some scenarios, like in pre-primary sections or in classrooms that have expensive equipment, CCTV cameras could be installed.
- If the school is located in areas with high attrition of teachers, or in areas where security of kids is a key concern, only then should the administrators consider planning a CCTV in classrooms
- Besides classrooms, all corridors and outdoor spaces should have CCTV coverage.
How do we plan a CCTV system for a school?
In our experience, a well planned CCTV system is effective not as a deterrent but as a post-incident analysis tool. While we may have eyes on monitors, the possibility of preventing incidents while they are happening is rare and difficult. Therefore, the following points can be kept in mind while designing the CCTV system for a school:
- Cover all common areas such as corridors, lobbies, entrance and exit gates and try to cover open areas like playgrounds when feasible. Based on the schools locations, specific cameras may be planned to cover boundary walls, parking lots and basements.
- Connect all the camera’s to a central place like a security room or in the admin offices.
- Provide for multiple viewing displays at places like the guard room (for outdoor cameras only), reception (for indoor cameras only) and the Principal’s room / meeting room (for reviewing incidents after authorised access).
- The access to all recordings must be password protected, with the password closely guarded by the head of school and / or authorised person.
Technical specifications to keep in mind while planning a CCTV system for a school
While detailed drawing and technical specifications can only be made specific to a project, here are some key points to consider:
- Plan for an IP based system with POE cameras- it will avoid the need to provide a separate power connection to each camera, reduce wiring costs and increase reliability.
- The NVR (network video recorder) should have extra capacity to add camera’s when required. It should also have enough storage to store all recordings for at least 1 month.
- The NVR and connected switches should be powered by a UPS system only, with sufficient backup to outlast power outages.
- In addition to providing wiring at planned camera locations, leave additional spare wires at locations where cameras might be required in the future.
- Good brands to use for CCTV are Bosch and Honeywell, while brands such as Hikvision and CP Plus are common as they are slightly less expensive.
There are many other considerations while planning a good CCTV system for a school. Do reach out to us if you have any questions.