All Too Common

Campus incidents are conversations parents must have with childre

As of July 2019, there were 22 school shootings in the United States in which someone was hurt or killed. In addition, the Everytown for Gun Safety organization reported there were at least 66 incidents of gunfire on school grounds from January-August 2019. I am the father of four school-age children. The reality that school shootings are becoming increasingly common makes me feel angry — and powerless. Hearing my sons talk to me about their regular lockdown drills at school is a conversation we have at the dinner table.

Recently, 145 CEOs from some of the world’s top companies including Uber, Twitter, Levi Strauss and Royal Caribbean signed a letter urging Congress to expand background checks and “red flag” laws — legislation that would enable law enforcement to temporarily take guns away from people deemed a danger to themselves or others. I was proud to sign this letter.

But I can do more. As the president and co-founder of a security company that provides access control, I am in a unique position to understand how we can respond to, and even prevent these active shooter and emergency situations. Modern technology can provide a fast, unobtrusive and highly-reliable way to trigger a lockdown scenario.

Here are some current lockdown technology methods available to schools and campuses today: Panic buttons. A red button that says “Lockdown,” which is placed on a wall in a very visible area that anyone can push in case of emergency.

Gunshot detector. These systems use microphone sensor nodes to detect a gunshot and lockdown the building.

Glass break detector. A glass break detector sounds an alarm when glass is broken. Glass break detectors work alongside motion sensors, window sensors and door sensors.

AWS IoT buttons. These small, customizable buttons can be programmed for a lockdown and discreetly placed anywhere.

My company, Openpath, just launched our mobile Lockdown Solution that connects all of the methods above to our access control system, offering a more complete solution that can be controlled and monitored from a single pane of glass. Additionally, we give authorized users the ability to lock and unlock any door, zone or building in case of emergency — including active shooter, other emergency incidents and natural disasters — from a mobile device.

This can also be done remotely. Supported by our Triple Unlock Technology, which works over Wi-Fi, LTE and Bluetooth, it guarantees a fast and reliable connection, which is imperative for emergency situations.

Security experts like the idea of flexible technology that allows the creation of customized plans for different emergency scenarios.

“That lockdown functionality has traditionally been a rigid and limited feature,” said Ryan Schonfeld, CEO of RAS Security Group, consulting and investigations. “Having the flexibility to create and use multiple different plans and trigger them instantly from a mobile device gives security teams yet another powerful set of tools to help them respond to an incident, and is a requirement [I am] seeing more and more from schools.”

Once the technology is in place, lockdown plans need to be customized to fit different security situations and campus layouts. For instance, the lockdown plan for a suspicious package would be completely different from the plan for an active shooter or an earthquake. The plan for an earthquake would be to open all doors, turnstiles and gates so everyone can move away from glass windows and then get out quickly. For an active shooter, the plan would be different — the goal is to lockdown the area where the shooter is located and open perimeter doors, gates and turnstiles so first responders can get inside, while keeping the shooter isolated and victims barricaded in their rooms.

I want to emphasize that implementing technology and creating lockdown plans must be accompanied by the proper training. Schonfeld maintains that having lockdown functionality in schools is important as it gives students, staff and security staff one more tool in responding to physical threats, natural disasters and other emergency situations. However, a lockdown plan must be accompanied by proper training because every second matters in an emergency and there is no time for mistakes.

This article originally appeared in the January / February 2020 issue of Campus Security Today.

About the Author

James Segil is the president and co-founder of OpenPath.


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