Burnaby school officials will soon have sharper eyes on school grounds and administrative buildings, thanks to a major surveillance equipment upgrade now in the works.
The district currently has security cameras in all but two of its 49 schools, according to facilities director Cory Borg.
For years, if cameras broke down, he said they were replaced “like for like,” but the technology has now become outdated, so the district is launching a replacement program, starting with Byrne Creek Community School, Cariboo Hill Secondary and Maywood Community School.
“The technology’s improved to a point where it’s much more user-friendly, much more searchable and just easier to look at an incident, whether it’s theft of a backpack or worse,” Borg said.
“Let’s say you’re looking for a kid with a plaid shirt and a backpack; you can program it so you can follow them all the way through, as they enter the property into the school, and it makes it very easy to try to find a kid in a plaid shirt or whatever.”
Borg said Byrne Creek, Cariboo Hill and Maywood were picked because their equipment was the most dated.
The district sent out a request for proposals on July 15, and Borg said the district should have a contractor picked by the end of next month.
According to the 203-page RFP, the contractor will be responsible for supplying and installing 35 cameras at Byrne Creek, 43 at Cariboo Hill and 18 at Maywood.
“We have cameras in all the main corridors, cameras over administrative areas and camera coverage for all the exits and egresses,” Borg explained.
The contractor will also be responsible for installing cabling for communications systems and providing training to district staff.
“It’s a technology upgrade for security cameras, and it’s the best of the best,” Borg said. “We’re trying it in a couple high schools and one elementary, and we will tweak it, see what we need to adjust and then that will be our new platform going forward as we look to roll out upgraded cameras to all of our schools and administrative buildings.”
Burnaby school board policy allows for the “controlled use of video surveillance” on school board property for safety and security, according to the policy manual, but surveillance must be carried out in a way that "respects the privacy rights of students, staff and others."
Regulations state the introduction of new video surveillance at a school has to be approved by the board after the plan has been reviewed and approved by the school planning council.
Notifications also have to be put up at sites with video surveillance, according to the regulations, and video files are to be erased within a year, unless they are needed in relation to a specific incident.