How Schools Can Decrease ‘Stranger Danger’ with Intelligent Security
published on March 03, 2017 by Jon Ecker
Security technology and infrastructure can help safeguard school campuses
First, the good news. A review of school safety and security data shows that there has been a two-decades-long decline in non-fatal student victimizations, both in school and away from school.
Now, the bad news. Anxiety about crime on school grounds is up, especially in light of high profile and tragic shootings in places that most people visit on a regular basis, such as malls, movie theaters, bars, holiday parties, airports, and schools.
With round-the-clock news coverage and instant text alerts, it’s difficult to not be anxious, especially where schools are concerned – the place where we entrust the safety of our children to others.
The response from schools
To their credit, many schools have tightened up or created new security measures. Hiring security personnel, staff trainings, regular lockdown and secure perimeter drills, and installation of security equipment has helped to make schools safer.
Is it enough, though?
With advances in security technology, schools should be in the habit of regularly reassessing their security protocols and investigating new procedures and equipment to improve the safeguards already in place.
Security begins at the front door
According to School Planning & Management, active shooters, non-custodial parents, registered sex offenders, thieves, and vandals often gain access to a school building through the main entrance. And in many instances, there is no other way to prevent even further access.
A secure vestibule at the school’s entrance is a solution:
- The visitor accesses a video intercom or other signal outside of the main entrance. A representative from inside the building communicates with the visitor. Once approved for entry, the visitor moves to the next step.
- The check-in desk is an opportunity for the school to check the visitor’s government-issued identification to confirm they are who they say they are. If approved, the visitor is issued a temporary photo ID and is prepared for the next step.
- Depending on layout, school personnel can either allow the visitor into the building or – a better solution – specifically into the main office. Once approved at this level, the main office personnel can allow access or provide an escort to the rest of the building.
Video surveillance at the entrance and other locations
At this point, many schools already have some sort of video surveillance system. But because of tight budgets, cameras may be outdated or not working, they may be inadequately monitored, and landscaping may have grown since the cameras were first installed.
Today’s cameras are capable of motion detection, alarm triggers, and much more.
It’s important to remember that every school is different. Each one has specific needs, blind spots, and hidden alcoves and stairwells. It’s imperative for qualified security integrators to determine the best locations for camera installation, both inside and outside the building.
Monitoring video surveillance remotely
Video capabilities now allow for monitoring cameras from remote locations. Managed security personnel can access the footage offsite and notify relevant school personnel when they spot suspicious activity. There is also the option of using remote speakers (known as “camera voice downs”) to remotely warn off intruders, a technology that is particularly useful in remote locations or after hours.
In addition, some systems allow school administrators to pre-designate first responders access to the video system, usually activated during an emergency situation.
Making use of intelligent video analytics software
A new trend is the incorporation of intelligent video analytics software. Simply put, video images are converted into data through the use of algorithms and search criteria. In the case of schools, the analytics can identify and help alert school and security personnel about suspicious activity, such as a growing crowd, an intruder, or a loiterer in real time – thereby enabling smarter decisions and faster reactions.
Partnering with security system integrators
The POM in POM Technologies stands for “Peace of Mind.” And where schools are concerned, students, parents, and staff should certainly have that peace of mind.
If you would like more information on improving your school’s existing security system or investigating new technologies to make your security system smarter, contact our experts today at 212.688.2767 or through our online form.