Farmington Hills-based company Securatech won the opportunity to provide extra security measures for Farmington Public Schools and the Berkley School District.

Farmington Hills-based company Securatech won the opportunity to provide extra security measures for Farmington Public Schools and the Berkley School District.

Photo provided by Rudy Patros

Oakland County school districts enhance security measures

Company touts AI video monitoring

By: Mark Vest | C&G Newspapers | Published April 14, 2023


OAKLAND COUNTY — School security has been an ongoing topic of discussion, both locally and around the country.

Recently, two school districts in Oakland County have taken extra security measures.

In addition to security measures that have already been in place, the Berkley School District has agreed to purchase 177 security cameras, seven servers, and video management software from Securatech, a Farmington Hills-based company that provides electronic security and guard services.

According to information sent by Farmington Public Schools, the district also purchased additional security cameras and a video management system from Securatech.

“This is part of our ongoing safety and security efforts,” Diane Bauman, the director of school and community relations and pupil accounting for Farmington Public Schools, stated in an email. “The decision was that they were the lowest bid that met all the requirements of our bid. … The main requirements were:  1) Client software needed to work natively with Windows OS, MacOS, iOS and Android w/full functionality, (and) 2) Able to provide access to law enforcement and first responders as needed.”

Rudy Patros is the president of Securatech, which he said was started in 2009 and has around 140 employees.

“(In) Berkley and Farmington Hills, we’re starting the installation process of upgrading all of their surveillance technology,” Patros said. “Those two are in process; then we have several other districts that we are working on — working on designs, quotes. Those are in the pipeline. All in all we’re hoping to get to about 18 school districts over the next two years.”

According to Patros, the average cost to districts for surveillance upgrades is $500,000.

He shed some light on what those upgrades entail.

“State-of-the art cameras with artificial intelligence capabilities — upgraded management software to manage all the camera systems,” Patros said. “Our company’s one of the only companies in the country that has its own state-of-the-art artificial intelligence video monitoring station, so we can turn our office into a command center instantly, as we already have the monitoring station built, and we monitor our own customers anyways. … Each school is getting camera upgrades, additional cameras, and then new management software across the board.”

Patros described artificial intelligence as “basically, just putting brains in the camera.”

“So that could mean if somebody’s walking in a specific direction, if they were to leave (an) item that looks suspicious, if they’re driving in the wrong direction,” Patros said. “It can count people. It can tell you what color clothes they’re wearing, if they have a backpack on. Whatever you want it to do, we can pretty much tell it, depending on what the school is looking for. So there’s different layers of artificial intelligence.”

Meghan Ashkanani is the director of teaching, learning and technology for the Berkley School District. She said that the 177 cameras purchased from Securatech will tie in with the software of the existing 335 cameras that the district currently has.

She expects the process to be complete before the start of the next school term.

“Having our new cameras and our existing one on one video management system was an advantage,” Ashkanani said. “We already had the ability to see our cameras remotely, so we’ll continue to have that ability, even though we’re combining new cameras with an older set of cameras, so to speak. So just the ease of having everything in one system is really what attracted us to Securatech.”

According to Ashkanani, the cost for Securatech’s services was approximately $452,000, and the bulk of it is being paid from a security grant from the state of Michigan.

“With the video management software that Securatech offers, it is kind of a one-time fee, so to speak,” she said. “You don’t have to pay each time the software needs to be upgraded, and with our current company, we would pay for every upgrade that’s needed, so that was very advantageous to us (because) we know what costs we’ll be incurring on the front end.”

Patros said that the security is installed in common areas and “not necessarily in classrooms,” and that it will be in every school in the Berkley School District and Farmington Public Schools.

According to Patros, who said he grew up in Farmington Hills, the cameras are always recording, even when school is not in session.

“I definitely think it’s gonna make them safer,” he said. “There’s gonna be no blind spots in the school, which is going to make everybody safer.”

Electronic security and physical guard services are the two primary services that Securatech offers. Patros said the company also provides services for retail locations, hotels, apartment complexes and senior living facilities.

The Pontiac School District has utilized Securatech for guard services.

“We haven’t really worked with Securatech other than for a small short-term contract a few months ago where they provided two late night security guards for us for a limited time period during construction,” an email from a district representative stated.

Other districts have their own ways of handling security measures.

“We partner with the West Bloomfield Police Department and the Orchard Lake Police Department on a majority of our safety and security items,” a West Bloomfield School District representative stated via email. “We provide some information to the public about our safety and security initiatives, however, we try to keep a lot of that private for obvious reasons.”

When asked if there is a contract in place with school districts, Patros said that typically it is a one-time transaction, but that maintenance agreements can be purchased.

He provided an example of how Securatech’s electronic security services can come into play.

“Let’s just say there’s a fight in the school,” he said. “There’s nothing that’s going to trigger somebody to watch that. It’s more about how simple it is to play back and look at how the whole interaction transpired. … The technology that we’re putting in, if there’s an incident, immediately we’re able to log in and watch it and figure out how it happened and what happened.”

Patros’ goal is to eventually have districts protected from the outside-in, with nobody who has bad intentions being able to approach a school building without the school being alerted.

“It’s not part of what we’re installing just yet, but we have some advanced technology that will alert you if somebody’s walking towards the school and has a weapon on them, even if it’s concealed; the cameras are that sophisticated,” he said. “There’s technology that will alert us if there’s a gunshot in the area for lockdown purposes — there’s some physical hardware that can be installed in the school. We’re testing out some specialty window film that makes it bullet resistant, and special door locks that allow for a door not to be kicked in. So my goal as a security expert, local to Oakland County, born and raised, is to implement these things in a school as a test and have the most secure schools in the country.”

Patros said that it is new technology and that “nobody’s really used it yet.”

“It’s nothing that’s gonna look like a prison,” he said. “It’s gonna look like it looks today; there’s just technology installed.”