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Keeping Schools Safe: Integrated Security K-12

Currently the majority of schools are using manual methods of entry and this can be a point of breach in security. It is estimated that 48% of schools use a manual emergency lock-down. Since the recent number of school shootings, active shooter drills have been required by public schools nationwide. In real life, a majority of active shooter incidents are over in less than 5 minutes and schools equipped with access control systems can shut down access in a fraction of that time.

It is a balancing act that districts all over try to maintain. Create a warm and welcoming place with supportive open environments for students, parents, and visitors from the community, while also trying to protect the students from dangerous individuals. Access control systems give administrators the best of both worlds by linking a profile of an individual to an entry/exit point as well as connecting surveillance systems to the event entry request. In addition to a linked profile, alerting systems such as motion detection, glass breaks, and more will trigger surveillance recording in the event of an intruder.

A growing number of public schools in the US have begun to protect their children using Access Control systems to control the entry and exit of people who should or should not be allowed to enter the school. Over 55% of schools have upgraded their access control systems within the past five years. These systems can be programmed to give access to specific people in specific areas of the campus and not allow access to other areas. But just how do these systems work?

Door entry systems work with a user profile that is previously confirmed safe for entry and linked to a means of presentation at a door location. The differing methods of presentation include key fobs, proximity cards, or bio-metric entry. In public schools, most ID badges also double as the key card allowing a visual view of a picture of the individual who also has system access. There are generally two types of proximity cards and fobs, standard and smart. The easiest to use is the key fob as most people have their auto and home keys with them, they are able to put the fobs on the key chain and not forget.

Because many older schools were built without a single entry/exit point, it can be very difficult to manage multiple access points throughout the day. In the past, they have used standard metal keys with custodians being the point of security or a simple buzzer and camera system to remotely allow people to enter and leave a building. These systems are a weak link and ultimately fail because of the constant rotation in custodial employees. This rotation adds an element of risk as not all custodians have the sense of urgency to guard an entrance and often make friends with students and thus offer entry that would be otherwise not allowed.

The most effective method of accountability is adding a card/fob reader with an access control system linked to a surveillance system where the person trying to enter would scan their card/fob and enter the building and if anyone let a non-authorized person in, it is picked up on camera. All visitors must enter at a centrally location where security personnel, whether a secretary or a school resource officer (SRO) is located and can ensure that those entering and exiting are properly logged and confirmed for entry.

An Integrated Security Management System (ISMS) combines surveillance system, access control system, intrusion detection (alarm) system, SIP Based Intercom systems, and more all into one unified platform that can be managed from a secure location. This ISMS offers the benefit of removing the liability associated with untrained individuals holding physical keys to buildings which can then be duplicated or loaned out to anyone. ISMS integrate the IP security systems into one platform rather than having many different programs to access. The system is flexible, accounting for growth of a school district or the availability of funds to bring many buildings online into one management console.

SIP Based Intercom systems are call stations that are associated with doors, gate control devices, and cameras, that offer door and camera actions that allow a school secretary or SRO to view caller and unlock doors or gates from a PC or a mobile device. Call logs and video sessions are automatically stored and a report can be run to investigate communications activity and replay the call sessions with associated video.

For school districts, the old methods of using analog CCTV video systems are on the way out, technically speaking, and are being replaced by IP-based security cameras. However, because these CCTV systems are being phased out, it does not mean they are no longer usable. Many districts could save money by converting those old analog cameras to a digital feed that can be brought into the ISMS and save money on the initial installation. Later, as these older cameras begin to fail due to end of life or a better quality camera is needed, they can be upgraded.

In addition to building security coverage, Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) increases your recovery of individuals when incidents occur. The ALPR system is installed in areas where the need to recover a plate for vehicle registration identification is needed.

Not every school district will want to employ all of these options but they are never-the-less available and can all run in harmony to the whole security package that we provide. Each district would need an onsite evaluation which we provide FREE of charge. We’ll walk around with the school resource officer or administrator and discuss the concerns that exist for each of the specific locations.

Integrated security management systems are the most effective means of protecting your children, faculty, and staff and recovering stolen property or resolving a vandalism problem.

Whether a school or a home, we can set up your system customized to your security needs. We offer many options for security platforms including Genetec, Axis, exacqVision, and more.

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