Local integrator aims to secure 230 schools in Arizona

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Thursday, March 9, 2006

TUSCON, Ariz.--Ken Ross, owner of the four-employee Wildfire Security, is a civic-minded guy. That community-based thinking may eventually lead to $8.2 million in IP video installations throughout the Tuscon area's 230 schools in 17 school districts in Pima County.
Ross is Tuscon born and bred, his wife works for a school district and his home is directly across from a school. Add that to a recent spate of school-based incidents and you've got a guy who started "thinking outside the box," said Ross. He's come up with a plan to install a standardized camera and DVR IP video system in every school in the county for about $36,000 per school--and the schools don't pay a dime. He's financing all of the installations, done to his specs by local contractors already working with the individual schools, with corporate donations from the likes of Wal-Mart, Albertson's and small local businesses who contribute as little as $250.
Ross has presented the idea to every district in the county over the last six months, "and I've yet to get a 'no,'" he said. Now it's just a matter of raising the money, what will eventually come to $8.2 million. "I've gotten an incredible response so far," he said.
He has recently had his system installed in three beta schools in one district and has a go ahead for two beta schools in another.
Ross said he is making a profit on this, but not nearly the margin that is industry standard. Instead, he said he is motivated by an incident that happened involving a gun at the school across the street--where one of his two school-aged children attends.