A Proactive Thought

How audio fits into the greater campus security solution of the future

The way we approach school security needs to change. Bullying, mental health challenges, and widespread access to firearms have seeped into the fabric of our educational facilities, triggering a rise in tragic active shooter incidents which have become common enough in newspaper headlines for some to glance over without notice.

As unfortunate as this may be, the general outcry following incidents like Sandy Hook and more recently Parkland, Fla. are promising as students, parents and members of the public begin to take notice demanding a change in how we monitor and secure school campuses.

However, while promising in its own right, this general outcry and sparked interest in change is a reactionary thought. As our needs for safer security measures on campuses across America have grown, security systems have largely remained the same.

In this article, you will read an argument for more proactive security on campuses, including audio analytics.

THE ROLE OF AUDIO IN THE GREATER CAMPUS SECURITY SOLUTION

So how does audio fit into the greater campus security solution of the future? Let’s examine.

By itself, video is a reactionary security measure. Without a physical operator on hand to monitor the individual zones across campuses or widely installed video analytics, video evidence must be reviewed after the fact to provide any kind of understanding. Clearly, this isn’t an ideal solution for providing campus security. In fact, relying on video alone is at best a passive measure to addressing security incidents.

By adding audio-based technology, schools take a greater proactive approach to security. Instead of reviewing video evidence after an incident has already occurred, audio enables operators to immediately hear and respond to suspicious noises like yelling, car alarms, or loud bangs that may be gunshots. With two-way audio, operators can significantly cut down on the time it takes to address security incidents like bullying or fighting.

When paired with audio analytics, the need for a physical operator to proactively monitor security zones becomes much less apparent. The aggression in someone’s voice can be detected and trigger an automated response to police or school officials. This creates an opportunity for an argument to be defused before it escalates into a dangerous event like assault.

For active shooter incidents, time is the most precious commodity. Fortunately, gunshot analytics provide just that. When a firearm is discharged, the analytic immediately detects the gunshot and send an automated alert to officials who can then verify the alarm and put the school in lockdown while waiting for first responders. This eliminates the chaotic response some active shooters count on.

With all of this in mind, the expansion for audio and analytics deployment in educational environments becomes that much more apparent. Audio is a critical component in a total security solution.

One of the most frequent areas school administrators deploy audio is near facility entrances and exits. Two-way audio will give staff the ability to monitor and grant access to guests, complementing any existing visual and/or locking access control systems in place. This reduces potential threats from entering campus property or the classroom environment.

Hallways are another recommended location for audio. Being a high traffic area and one of the more common location for incidents, audio capture of events is ideal. Administrators frequently use audio to catch and deter inappropriate behavior like harassment, bullying, harassment, or even assaults. This also provides greater clarity when reviewing incidents after the fact.

On a similar note, common areas like courtyards or lunchrooms are another ideal location for audio. Since many incidents happen in these locations where students congregate, capturing and reviewing audio allows administrators to act on potential incidents in real-time as opposed to after the fact.

Another location that is vulnerable to inappropriate behavior are the school parking lots. Two-way audio allows operators to not only listen for potential incidents but address them as they occur c. As far as transportation, school buses are a prime location for audio.

Widely installed audio not only benefits students and staff, but property in educational environments.

A RISE IN EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES ADOPTING AUDIO

A prime example of audio used in education happened in the state of Pennsylvania. In 2014, Senate Bill 57 amended Pennsylvania’s wiretap law which allowed audio monitoring on school buses. In addition to making school buses safer for students and drivers, the law effectively eliminated “he said, she said” incidents.

This is important when we consider a lawsuit that made headlines in 2016. An audio recording from a school bus confirmed a driver had asked a student to get off the bus to move a downed power line.

This example proves that audio not only provides security, but ensures all participating parties are following the law.

Another noteworthy example of audio in education happened in the state of Texas. In 2015, Senate Bill 507 called for the use of audio and video surveillance in self-contained classrooms or other settings which provide special education services. This is to deter abuse to some of our nation’s most vulnerable students.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

As interest and adoption of audio in educational security continues to rise, we expect this shift in mindset continues moving towards a permanent solution.

It’s clear that audio is a necessary component in education. Renewed interest from concerned teachers, parents, and students have signaled a dire need for adopting proactive threat detection. Integrators are responding and including audio in their school security solutions.

Other technologies such as two-way audio allows administrators to enact proactive measures when responding to threats near entrances and around campus perimeters. Lastly, well placed audio ensures educational employees follow the law in classrooms and on school buses by eliminating conflicting accounts.

This article originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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