A Proactive Thought
How audio fits into the greater campus security solution of the future
- By Richard Brent
- August 01, 2018
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
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.
As interest and adoption of audio in educational security continues to
rise, we expect this shift in mindset continues moving towards a permanent
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
This article originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.