MCHS upgrades to improved security cameras

By Adam Hammond, business manager

By Ian McLaughlin, photo editor

The security system protecting Maria Carrillo High School got a substantial upgrade with the installation of Avigilon cameras and security software during September. 

As part of a district wide initiative, Avigilon H4 multisensor dome cameras are being installed to replace the old cameras, and cover many new locations. Once the installation is complete, the campus is going to have “roughly 40 cameras…blanketing the whole property” according to Assistant Principal Albert Ettedgui.

 “The previous system was super old technology,” Ettedgui stated. Previously, MCHS had 24 cameras across campus, of which only 10 functioned properly. Of those 10, according to Ettedgui, “only four to five were truly effective”. Additionally, the old camera system was hampered by a storage capacity of 2 weeks. 

The Avigilon H4 can be configured with three or four rotatable cameras. It has better visibility in darkness, and higher resolution. This is a step up from MCHS’ previous cameras, whose poor resolution led to a number of unpunished vandalisms. While the cameras are also tamper-resistant, the main selling point for Ettedgui was its data storage. “It’s a method that makes sense for our application,” he stated, with a “minimum four months of storage per camera.”

 Avigilon’s new security software is also easier to use than what was previously installed. Ettedgui says the software is “a whole lot nicer,” making the process of finding and sharing files more simple and user friendly. It also formats them correctly for court use. 

In addition to the above improvements, the software also has enhanced recognition capabilities. According to Avigilon’s website and online brochures, its software has “a sophisticated AI search engine” that can detect changes in scenes and identify people based on clothing and gender. Given a search, the software can automatically detect and provide links to any clips meeting the criteria. The system also has limited facial recognition, a controversial feature as its use by police was banned in both San Francisco and Oakland. The feature is currently being used by the administration. 

Ettedgui stated that the new security system added as part of a bond that focuses on keeping schools “safe, warm, and dry.” The warm and dry aspects were covered last year with both a new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, and roof repairs. Safety has been improved in a number of ways, such as adding new phones, Columbine locks, and of course, Avigilon’s security system.

In a month and a half, the district plans to initiate what has been dubbed “Phase Six.” Phase Six will see the removal of redundant cameras, and add additional cameras to cover blind spots. 

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