[5 Minute Read]
Schools should be safe havens for learning, personal development, and character growth. But unfortunately, more students are viewing schools as unsafe and dangerous places. In fact, 7% of students reported missing school in the last 30 days because they did not feel safe.
These statistics are concerning not only for the student’s physical safety but for their mental health. The anxiety that stems from feeling unsafe can negatively impact school performance and cause kids to act out in other ways. So what can we do to not only keep kids safe but also make them feel safe? These six technologies for safer schools are a great place to start.
1. Access Control
If a school takes any security precautions it should be access control. The old lock and key just doesn't cut it anymore. Badges and key cards provide more insight and are easier to disable when lost/stolen. You no longer have to replace all the locks when someone loses a key or worry about a disgruntled ex-employee who didn’t return their key.
Remote access control allows administration to quickly lock and unlock doors in case of an emergency. The entire school can be locked down with the press of a button. This means people don’t have to put themselves in danger to try and lock or unlock a door. Access control can also benefit specific rooms like science labs, computer labs, or front offices. If things go missing or wrong, you can see exactly who went in and out of the rooms.
2. Door Intercoms
School security begins at the door. Access control badges work for staff and employees and monitoring the doors during class changes is fairly easy to do, but what about the rest of the time? Door intercoms installed outside of regular entryways allow campus staff to communicate with visitors before they enter the building.
Aiphone makes door intercoms with clear audio and video, this makes it easier to assess unknown visitors. These door intercoms combined with remote access control make it easy to either let in visitors or alert law enforcement.
3. Video Surveillance
Most schools have some form of video surveillance but it may not be as effective as it should be. Due to budget constraints and lack of resources, many schools are still using dated analog video systems. They need to look towards IP cameras that can integrate with their other systems. These cameras can help keep eyes on school grounds, deter students from misbehaving, assist in investigations, and can be used by law enforcement in tactical situations.
Cameras should stream in color, be capable of remote access, be strategically placed around the building, and store footage for a reasonable amount of time. Having the cameras isn’t enough though, several staff members must be capable of using and monitoring the system so that it can be utilized in an emergency or investigation.
4. Visitor Management System
Schools should already have some type of visitor process established. It’s common for visitors to simply sign themselves in and wear a sticker. Unfortunately, that is leaving the school vulnerable to outside threats. More thorough procedures require ID checks and a formal introduction with administration, but nowadays even that isn’t enough. Schools are implementing more robust screening processes, requiring fingerprint scans and running IDs against felony and sex-offender watch-lists. Getting a Visitor Management System can make it easy to scan IDs, print temporary access passes, and record information on visitors.
5. Mass Notification System
An easy to use and easy to understand mass notification system is essential. Dated intercoms that sound muffled and are poorly placed won’t spread important messages during an emergency. A good system will give you the ability to page certain areas or the entire campus. Pre-recorded messages can also be utilized. Communication isn’t one way though, teachers and students should be able to respond or page the main office if they need to. So intercoms placed in classrooms should facilitate two-way communication.
Notification systems can go beyond intercoms and can also encompass digital signs that are updated in real time. They can alert students to evacuate, tell them where to go, and even share good news like pep rally times.
Although integration isn’t a specific technology it’s the piece of the puzzle that takes security systems to the next level making them more effective, useful, and robust. Tying all of the components into a single platform on an IP-based system is crucial, especially for bigger institutions.
All of these technologies for safer schools are most effective if they work together. Having video surveillance, door intercoms, access control devices, and paging systems can only help so much if they aren’t compatible and integrated. For example, if you have a buzzer on the front door it should be tied in with a monitor in the main office that shows surrounding video surveillance and you should be able to unlock the door, sound a panic alarm, or lock down the school from the main office.
Integrated systems are simpler to use, and the easier a system is to use the more likely it is to get used to the fullest potential. Systems that are utilized will keep schools and their students safe.
There is no one-size fits all security solution. It depends on the size, risk, needs, and budget for each individual school. Educating yourself on possible solutions is the first step but consulting a system integrator and security expert are crucial to getting the right systems in place.
These six technologies for safer schools can help keep your students and faculty safe, to learn more about a particular technology check out one of our eBooks below. If you’re ready to talk specifics then contact ASD today.
Excellently written! I am looking forward to visiting ASD in Atlanta in a couple of weeks.