An Annual Security Check-up

Monitoring your facility can help mitigate threat and unnecessary risks

Just like going to the doctor for your annual health check-ups; the same holds true for schools who need to go through an extensive security check-up annually. The main reason is to ensure they are fully prepared for any type of emergency that arises on school grounds.

The first step in preventing a tragedy is early detection of the situation, just like detecting an illness such as cancer in its initial stages before it spreads. The health of a school’s security system is crucial to keeping staff and students unharmed. Early detection can help eliminate the safety threat before it becomes a life- threatening event. Creating a safe environment across schools and campus settings has become a true necessity.

In today’s world, there are so many dangers rearing its ugly head in schools from fire hazards, vaping issues, chemical/air quality issues, active shooters, and so much more. The goal of any campus style setting is to create a safe and secure environment by staying aware about what is really happening in your building. Having a simple, easy-to-use way of monitoring your facility can help eliminate the threat and mitigate risks early on.

Whether you are a school looking to eliminate vaping or control who is accessing your building; an integrated security solution can help accomplish this.

Over the years, too many emergency situations have occurred in schools and other campus facilities throughout the country due to a lack of sufficient security. During an emergency, response time is critical and having alerts sent immediately to designated security staff and campus administration can make the difference between life and death in certain situations. Active shooter incidents have become a serious situation over the years and continues to be a major concern.

There have been at least 58 school shootings in the United States so far this year, as of Oct. 3. Nineteen of those were on college campuses; the remaining 39 were on K-12 school grounds. This is alarming and shows that our schools need to act and conduct annual assessments regarding school safety. Awareness is key when it comes to educating school districts and college campuses on the latest security technology available.

By understanding the technology and how it works, school administrators can make better decisions when investing in physical security technology.

Clean Bill of Health
Getting a clean bill of health can be challenging in our personal lives and in the classroom. How do schools receive a clean bill of health when it comes to security? The following steps are an effective way to start the path to a healthier school environment.

Internal audit. Schools should assess the current security procedures in place. Make sure your staff fully understands the safety protocols through clear communication. Safety procedures should be updated and shared with all staff members annually.

Research new security technology. Administrators should collect information annually on the distinct types of physical security solutions available ranging from perimeter protection, video surveillance, access control, vape detection, metal detection and gunshot detection. It is important that schools understand what types of technology is available to them.

Assessment of current security system. Is your system antiquated and in need of an update? There can be too many false event alarms if you are using older video cameras equipped with motion-based pixel detection. The latest AI and deep learning algorithms can detect and classify distinct objects (people, vehicles, faces, and license plates), while clearly distinguishing from its environmental surroundings.

Investment analysis. Once you have assessed the current security system, it is important to determine how much money needs to be allocated for upgrades. Understanding the security investment up front and the time it will take to implement will help schools plan their budgets accordingly.

By using the steps above, schools will benefit with faster response times to threats, better informed teachers and staff members on how to manage emergencies, and improved situational awareness if an incident takes place. Another important aspect of keeping schools safe is using an open platform data-driven VMS system.

Many schools do not use an open platform which creates a problem when trying to integrate to other security systems. Using disparate systems can make it cumbersome for schools to quickly monitor their building. The best scenario is having one dashboard to view data and make real-time decisions. By having an integrated system, schools can monitor an entire building and analyze copious amounts of data from various sources.

When there is a dangerous situation such as an air quality issue, an active shooter, or a vaping issue, schools can mitigate risks quickly.

A breakthrough in vape detection technology includes all-in-one IoT smart sensors that offers additional health and safety uses in privacy areas. These devices are important for the long-term investments of schools as once the vaping problem is stopped, schools can now monitor air quality issues and create a healthier environment for students. Another big push for schools is deploying a lockdown & emergency response system. This can help schools protect children, staff, and first responders from death and injury. Teachers need access to the latest lockdown and emergency response systems to successfully lock down their classrooms and ensure the safety of their students.

Some examples of existing technology-based systems commonly used in schools.

Mass notification systems that can send emergency alerts to parents, staff and students through various channels such as text message, email or social media.

Install panic buttons in classrooms and other areas of the school to quickly notify authorities in case of an emergency.

Lockdown systems whereby teachers can quickly lockdown their classroom by pressing a button.

Video surveillance systems used to monitor activity in and around the school, as well as to provide evidence in case of an emergency.

Moving forward we will see many more schools implementing a complete security solution. However, the first step is assessing the security health of the school with annual check-ups. Some of the challenges continues to be proper training of staff members on the security technology and safety procedures. It is important to hold safety drills to make sure everyone in the school is on board and ready to react in an emergency.

Another key consideration is the system's analytics capabilities. Schools should look for a security system that provides comprehensive data analysis and reporting tools. An annual security check-up allows administrators to identify areas that need improvement and make critical changes. It also allows teachers to ask questions if something is not clear. School safety is a team effort and holding annual security check-ups is just what the doctor ordered.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2023 issue of Campus Security Today.

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