Four Tips for Developing Effective Campus Security
Changing technology, an evolving security industry and increasing threats are all factors today’s educational facilities must take into account when considering security
- By Mary Wilbur
- August 01, 2018
The sad reality of today’s campuses, whether K-12 schools
or college campuses, is that they can no longer be areas
anyone is welcome to enter; there must be steps taken to
prevent someone who would enter the campus with
intentions to harm students, teachers and staff.
For years many organizations have been reactionary, thinking some
of the horrific acts of violence happen elsewhere, but could not happen
here. However, recent events, especially the Parkland shooting, have
caused many to realize they must be proactive.
People who studied education most likely have no formal training in
the security field, yet now they are expected to make expert decisions
about campus security. So how can those in this field make the best
choices with regard to campus security? Here are four things to consider
when developing campus security.
Integration has been one of the biggest buzzwords in the security
industry for the past few years. People understand the need for different
technologies to communicate effectively and reliably, and to provide
law enforcement, fire fighters and school administrators with
seamless communication with security systems so they can effectively
do their jobs.
“Many of the recent tragedies have caught us, from the campus security
side, off guard," Paul Fisher, Director of Key Accounts, at Salient
Systems said. "Just because I have this access control system, this camera
system, and a gunshot detection solution, security professionals still
need to confirm these products are going to work seamlessly together.”
Unfortunately, Fisher says, as 9/11 taught us, seamless interoperability
isn’t always the case.
“While many security consultants might say certain technologies
should or must integrate, they don’t necessarily go through the process
of step-by-step implementation and review,” Fisher said. “You need to
ask yourself, ‘If this is happening, what should happen next?’”
The main goal of the consulting world is to fit a video system or a
security system into the budget of the school district or bond, and unfortunately
things might get left out as schools don’t always have enough
money to outfit their campuses with a fully effective security solution.
Fortunately, attitudes in this area seem to be shifting as campus
security professionals address real threats towards their campus and
begin to be proactive about implementing a solution that truly integrates
and interoperates with the various layers of available technology,
as well as with campus readiness programs and local law enforcement.
Schools can focus on physical hardening aspects of security, such as
a man trap area in a vestibule or bulletproof doors. Another technology
campuses are finding useful is gunshot detection. While this technology
is not new, it has certainly become far more effective than it was in its earlier iterations, and when integrated
properly with video surveillance systems and
mobile map technology, it can be an incredibly
useful tool for law enforcement entering a
potentially deadly situation and for those who
need the earliest possible warning.
“If you talk to students and really listen to the
stories that come out of the shootings,” Fisher
said. “So many times the kids say, ‘We thought it
was something else; we didn’t realize it was a
gun.’ Until they realize the gunfire is right next
to them, they don’t know what is happening.”
As soon as the gunshot is detected, that’s an
early warning for the teachers and students to
get out of the hallways and into a classroom
or an area where they can lock the door.
Another related technology that must
integrate with an overall security system is
automatic lock down. As soon as the school
realizes there is the potential for an event, it
must have the ability to lock down as many
doors as possible while still providing the
ability to see inside the school so the
responding officers have a better idea the
threat and giving staff and law enforcement
awareness into the situation.
FACILITATE SITUATIONAL AWARENESS
Fisher says most schools use their video surveillance
systems primarily for investigation
purposes after the fact, but to truly save lives,
schools must be able to offer useful live video
feeds to law enforcement. This requires integration
with gunshot detection systems that
can pinpoint the spot where a shot was fired
and highlight the live feed from nearby cameras.
A simple interface must give an officer,
who may not be trained in such a system, the
ability to know where the camera is located
and the direction it is pointed so that he or
she has the situational awareness necessary to
find and neutralize the threat as quickly and
safely as possible.
This situational awareness is closely tied in
with a campus security system’s integration
with other technologies. To help organizations
better capitalize on this technology, Salient’s
platform is offering the ability to implement
maps into a mobile device, Fisher says.
“So now with a handheld device, mobile
phone or a tablet, approaching law enforcement,
if given that access, can look at a map
that will show the direction the camera is
pointed and its physical location on the map
of the facility,” Fisher said. “If the video surveillance
system is tied to the gunshot detection
system, it would trigger the camera to
change colors indicating this is the general
direction the shot came from. With a camera
that is physically located in the area, instant
video will show exactly what’s happening in
the camera view area.”
GET THE EXPERTS’ INPUT
For educational institutions, finances are
probably the biggest barrier to getting the
most effective system. Those making the decisions
must not only spend the allotted money
wisely, but they must spend it on proven technology.
Schools can’t afford to spend it on a
new technology that makes huge promises
but fails to deliver.
One way Fisher says educational organizations
can ensure they are good financial fiduciaries
is to cultivate partnerships with local,
state and even federal law enforcement agencies.
“A security consultant addressing a
school board doesn’t have as much weight as
your local FBI saying it,” Fisher said.
Local businesses often partner with law
enforcement and the FBI who will come in
and do an evaluation of the facility.
“They come into ports, airports, critical
infrastructure on a daily basis and provide a
threat assessment. It would be valuable for
school districts to go to local or state level and
even a federal level law enforcement agency
and ask for an evaluation of their campus,”
Fisher said. “Those evaluations would provide
a high level of assurances for a school board
when they propose a bond request.”
Institutions must partner with the right companies
to truly get the most out of their security
solutions and integrations.
“The industry started with proprietary
technologies in everything they did,” Fisher
said. “And then it moved to an open architecture
approach. Security industry manufacturers
are now moving back to a proprietary format,
meaning that companies have decided
they want to be the jack-of-all-trades and the
master of none. They offer access control,
cameras, VMS, analytics—they try to wrap it
all up and say they can do it all.”
Fisher says it is the companies that continue
in an open architecture approach that have
the ability to really hone in on the best-ofbreed
technologies and provide the flexibility
to adopt and deploy the best available components
of a total solution.
“We are committed to helping you design
the best video security solution for your
needs,” Fisher said. “And we will integrate
with companies that offer products that meet
Integration between systems can be one of
the most important features for day-to-day
users of the security system. If multiple security
technologies are in place, integration of
those technologies should be a goal for most
programs in order to maximize
benefits from each
This article originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.