Tips For Designing Integrated Electronic Security Systems For Educational Environments

Tips For Designing Integrated Electronic Security Systems For Educational Environments

Expert advice will help maximize the efficacy and value of your school’s security system

Successful implementation of technological solutions requires a thoughtful approach, one that considers the needs of the people who benefit from it. In an educational setting a well-designed security system is crucial to creating a safe and nurturing learning environment, and it can also make all the difference in the fast response time needed to effectively handle an emergency situation.

There are many elements to consider when improving or upgrading a security system at a school. Better integration will ease the processes of purchasing, installing and maintaining this critical investment in your organization’s facilities, and more importantly, the investment you will be making towards the well-being of your student population.

THE IMPORTANCE OF AN INTEGRATED SECURITY SYSTEM

Your organization’s facilities may already have multiple safety, communication and security systems, which taken together represent a collection of hardware and software (and expensive software updates) as well as various vendor relationships. The challenge with this arrangement is that the many separate system components do not “speak” to one another. This lack of integration makes it challenging to operate with the flexibility an open campus requires, and also inhibits the rapid response time that schools need during emergencies to obtain appropriate data and imaging for quick decision-making.

There is much for your team to consider as you evaluate a new and more integrated security system. These tips save your organization time and money, while also supporting a safer, better connected educational environment.

CONSIDERATIONS FOR A WELL-DESIGNED, COST-EFFECTIVE SECURITY SYSTEM

The optimal security solution in a campus environment is one that is well-integrated, flexible, coordinated, and supported by security expertise so your staff can focus on the regular full-time work of providing the best education possible for your students.

IMPORTANCE OF INTEGRATION

A true integrated security system develops and leverages connections with video, intrusion, access control, fire and intercom systems to ensure complete control of the safety and security of a campus. This makes it possible for all systems in a facility or campus to work together for a common resolution when an emergency or safety event occurs.

An example will help explain why integration is so vital: in the event of an emergency lockdown, several things need to occur at the same time. The intrusion alarm system should send a notification to local authorities, the intercom system should play a pre-recorded message to ensure faculty and staff are informed of the scenario, cameras across the school should immediately populate the district control center monitors, and the access control system should ensure that all entrances are secured. Digi Security Systems has developed a solution that can execute all of these functions with the push of a single button.

A security system that is integrated will also help your institution prevent false alarms, which in some instances can save thousands of dollars in fees from local responding law enforcement. It is critical that the security system is designed to quickly relay event information to key decision-makers; this in turn accelerates the flow of information to designated executives to determine whether law enforcement is required to intervene. This speed puts the control of your institution’s spending and decision making back in your hands.

ANALYTICS, INTELLIGENCE AND HIGH-RESOLUTION VIDEO

The extent of your school’s ability to make a quick decision will be enhanced by the quality of the information key decision-makers receive as well as the speed with which they receive it. In addition to seeking out improved integration in your next system, look for analytics that support decision-making. For instance, Digi has additional built-in intelligence and analytics that even more readily facilitate this key decision-making for the end user. Digi’s self-learning video analytics can determine whether there is a human entering an area versus an animal (or other non-intruding object like a branch or vehicle driving by), avoiding the challenge of false alarms that can result in unnecessary staff check-ins or law enforcement costs. With this intelligent software, your school is only being alerted when a true threat (such as a break-in) presents itself.

High-resolution video allows for clearer imaging to ensure that no mistakes are made. Digi deploys systems that work together to provide the best alarm and event data while also capturing the highest resolution video possible to ensure the greatest probability of identification.

FLEXIBILITY AND CONNECTIVITY

With the evolution of security technology, an ever-evolving challenge has been to find a balance between providing a safe place for students to learn, and maintaining an open and accessible school campus. Specifically, security systems should not create obstacles for students to move from one activity or classroom to another, allowing them to focus on the work at hand. Digi installs systems that allow administrators and staff to schedule for events or change the access flow of a system remotely. This creates a structure that is flexible enough to be adjusted on an as-needed basis to preserve a more open campus culture, ensuring that the balance of openness and security of the campus is maintained.

WATCH FOR ONGOING SOFTWARE UPGRADE FEES

Many school districts and universities experience frustration with ongoing software fees, which are effectively a toll for the system they have already purchased to continue to function as it should. Digi balances effectiveness with budgets by ensuring that the systems they provide have no recurring software licensing fees. This helps schools use their limited resources to improve and expand on their existing systems.

COORDINATION AND SAVINGS ACROSS VENDORS

As facilities professionals know, managing the various vendors across an array of buildings can become a full-time job, presenting challenges for budgeting and procurement, and even simply ongoing operation and maintenance. Many times, schools have diminished control over the vendor that manages and controls the installation of their systems across the facility, with four or more vendors involved at any given time. This makes it extremely difficult to guarantee consistency on installation procedural standards, as well as to ensure there is clarity of responsibility amongst different vendors (as unfortunately fingerpointing can often occur amongst unaffiliated vendors). Digi offers educational customers the ability to adopt local board of regents contracts to put control of the installation and systems back into the hands of the people that use them, and Digi remains as the primary point of contact even after installation.

Look for strong vendor management to ensure maximum savings. Many times schools find themselves left with high cost service calls and poor quality because the security general contractor has selected the lowest-bid service providers. Digi invests time into creating a portfolio of the most comprehensive security solutions for educational clients, and also has negotiated vendor pricing to below-market rates to provide the best value possible while still preserving quality.

WORK WITH SECURITY AND SAFETY EXPERTS TO CUSTOMIZE AND IMPLEMENT

When selecting, designing and installing a security system, it is vital to ensure that your team works closely with a life safety and physical security expert to develop the system and procedures that work best for your school environment. This professional should design and integrate systems that give your team confidence that they work well together. At the beginning of the system selection process, Digi provides all quotes, engineering, and proofs-of-concept at no cost. Sample systems installed on site allow potential clients to become familiar and comfortable with their future security system even before making a purchasing decision.

It is important to choose a security system provider that remains available to your team after the system is installed. Digi provides expert training to assist your team in the development of standard operating procedures and staff training to complement the system and your specific response plan, as well as ongoing support once the system and procedures are up and running. Digi always carries a significant hardware inventory, allowing them to have extremely quick response times should customers require service.

AN EXPERTLY INTEGRATED SECURITY SOLUTION IS KEY

Just as is true for a student or a curriculum or a campus, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts when it comes to creating a supportive and safe educational environment for your students. It is not the performance of software or hardware components alone that your facilities team should be searching for when evaluating a new security system, but also integration, flexibility and security expertise.

This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of CSLS.

Digital Edition

  • Campus Security & Life Safety Magazine - November 2017

    November 2017

    Featuring:

    • The Importance of Fire Alarms
    • Increasing Security
    • Safe Learning
    • Time For An Upgrade
    • Bullying No More

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