November 30, 2023

Case Study
8 min

Bowie State University Develops a Cohesive Physical Security Strategy

CDW helps the university’s IT and public safety teams modernize video surveillance on campus.

CDW Expert CDW Expert

In a world where campus safety has become a top concern for students, their families and faculty alike, Bowie State University has established itself as a clear leader in higher education.

A few years ago, Bowie State was recognized for having one of the safest campuses in Maryland. Since then, it’s continued to invest in physical security, well aware that annual surveys show that most prospective students deem safety a factor when choosing which college to attend. Campus safety isn’t the only thing the institution has going for it — it’s also ranked among the most innovative in higher education and among the best historically Black colleges and universities. However, safety is a priority at the school and likely always will be.


Maurice Tyler, CIO and IT Vice President, Bowie State University

One Bowie State leader who knows that well is Maurice Tyler, CIO and vice president for IT. In early 2021, shortly after Tyler joined the university, a minor security incident was reported to his department and to the campus police. Thinking it was strange that his office had been called for what appeared to be a non-IT matter, he did some digging around and was surprised by what he found.

“I learned that we had all of these disparate security systems, and nothing was connected,” Tyler says. For years, Bowie State departments and facilities had independently purchased surveillance cameras and placed them according to their specific needs. Now, many of these devices were getting old, and in some cases there were no records of vendor or ownership, or directions explaining how the cameras were supposed to work.

Tyler scheduled a meeting with leaders from the university’s Office of Facilities Management and Department of Public Safety, and they all agreed the situation was unsustainable. Whenever campus police responded to an incident that required security camera footage, they’d have to ask the IT department for help retrieving the information. “My team was just exhausted from this repeated process of trial and error and reverse engineering,” he says. “We decided we had to do something more strategic.”


Percentage of students who say campus safety was a factor in their choice of which college to attend

Source:, “Campus Safety a Factor for Most in College Choice: Survey,” Sept. 7, 2022

From Consultation to Design and Implementation

Fast forward to January 2022, and Tyler was on a call with CDW. He had met with a number of CIOs at other higher ed institutions over the previous months, and one had suggested he consider a video surveillance system from Verkada. Tyler had done some research of his own and liked what he saw in the Verkada solution. Now he wanted to know if CDW could help him deploy the system at Bowie State.

Tyler’s contact at CDW, Jeremy Walker, principal field solution architect for physical security solutions, remembers their initial discussion and his impressions from a subsequent visit to the Bowie State campus.

“It was a smorgasbord of devices and systems,” Walker says. “What they had was extremely inefficient and had become a potential safety issue.”

In his meetings with Tyler and his colleagues at Bowie State, Walker explained how CDW could design a new surveillance system that would leverage a fleet of specialized Verkada cameras controlled through the Verkada Command platform. The cloud-based technology provides single-pane-of-glass monitoring capabilities from anywhere on campus.

Tyler and other Bowie State leaders signed off on the plan, and soon Walker was onsite, conducting a full survey of the 300-acre campus. Together with the university police, he assessed the existing technology, and determined which devices should be removed and where new cameras should be positioned. They toured every building and surveyed “every nook and cranny,” Walker says, focusing on entrances and exits especially. They also looked at common areas and outdoor spaces that served as gathering areas for students, and they evaluated the school’s numerous peripheral parking lots.

Ultimately, Walker designed a system that included more than 200 cameras. He submitted the plan to Tyler and his colleagues, made some alterations based on their feedback and eventually received the green light for implementation.

“They were very fluent in how everything worked and the capabilities of the overall system,” Tyler says of CDW. “It wasn’t a quick process, but we didn’t expect it would be. This was a big and complicated project.”

Up Close: Bowie State University’s Security Technologies

CDW helped Bowie State with three related physical security projects: installation of Verkada surveillance cameras, integration of the devices with the Verkada Command platform and deployment of Verkada Access Control tools at the entrances to many rooms and facilities.


Verkada Command

The cloud-based platform facilitates remote security management by aggregating data across devices.


Verkada Cameras

Six camera models were deployed at Bowie State.

CB51 (4x) and CB61 (6x): Bullet Series models for exposed outdoor environments and license-plate recognition

CD42 (122x), CD52 (31x), CD62 (34x): Dome Series models for indoor and outdoor use; high-resolution sensors up to 4K

CF81 (9x): Fisheye cameras with 360-degree pan-tilt-zoom coverage


Verkada Access Control

Devices integrate with cameras and Verkada Command to control access to specific spaces based on user credentials.

“Intuitive” Platform for Campus Protection

The project spanned everything from evaluating existing camera installations to positioning and wiring new devices. In many cases, the team relied on the existing infrastructure — taking advantage of a perfectly good cable, for instance, if it ran near the spot where a Verkada camera would go. Elsewhere, including in some parking lots, “we were literally boring under the roads and tearing up the concrete,” Tyler says.

At several points during the deployment, Bowie State police requested additional camera installations in places they hadn’t considered earlier. On one part of campus, for example, they realized it would be wise to ensure the system covered a new lab containing expensive equipment.

Similarly, Tyler says, there were several outdoor “hotspots” they hadn’t recognized were magnets for student activity. “We’d say, ‘Hey, we know this wasn’t part of Phase 1, but can you take care of it anyway?’” Each time, he notes, the answer was yes — all it took was a change order, and the cameras were installed.

With each installation, the team ensured that the device’s settings were refined to take advantage of the key features in the Verkada Command platform, Walker says.

“We made sure the resolution, the frame rate and everything else was set properly, and we configured and tested the analytics tools and notifications they’d be receiving through the system,” he says.


“Weʼre taking a layered-security approach.” — Maurice Tyler, CIO and Vice President for IT, Bowie State University

Likewise, every camera angle was adjusted to optimize the field of view, and CDW provided training to the Bowie State staff to ensure they understood how to use the platform and could easily make adjustments in the future.

“We’d verify ourselves that it showed what they originally wanted, and then we’d sit down with the Bowie State team to confirm it was good and make changes as needed,” Walker says.

Tyler, for his part, says the Verkada platform is “intuitive,” and not just for the campus police. Because the system is hosted in the cloud, IT no longer has to worry about platform maintenance tasks such as software upgrades or patching. And because all the cameras now connect to one place, if there’s ever a technical issue with the Verkada hardware, he’s confident that his team members will know exactly which device requires their attention.


From the police department’s perspective, Tyler adds, the system now provides a “God’s-eye view” of nearly every inch of the Bowie State campus. They’re able to use the platform from the comfort of their command center or in their vehicles when they’re out on patrol. And they now have access to features like face recognition technology and tools for night vision and license plate scanning. In one recent incident, they turned to the system to track a suspect who was fleeing across campus with a monitor stolen from a university conference room. The police eventually apprehended the thief, who “never had a chance,” Tyler says.

Moving forward, Tyler says Bowie State has already begun the project’s next phases. With CDW’s help, IT team members are installing more surveillance cameras across the university’s interior public spaces, and they’re deploying a door security system that integrates with the Verkada Command platform.

“We’re taking a layered-security approach,” he says, explaining how Verkada Access Control works. The system allows a student to use face recognition or a mobile device app to gain entry to his or her dormitory, for example. It also serves to keep would-be intruders at bay, alerting campus police instantly if an unauthorized person attempts to break in.

“We’re excited about what these technologies are going to mean for Bowie State University,” Tyler says. “We do know that they’re going to help us ensure the safety of our community.”

Learn how CDW can enhance campus
safety with physical security solutions.

Story by Chris Hayhurst, a freelance writer who covers educational technology and healthcare, among other topics. He's a regular contributor to the CDW family of technology magazines.

Photography by Chris Gunn