Why Innovative and Integrated Security Works for K-12
Approaching K-12 emergency management from an integrated perspective
- By Karen Evans
- August 01, 2018
As we have seen time and time again in critical situations
involving our nation’s schools, every second counts in
an emergency. Therefore it is imperative that schools
have the ability to instantly go into lockdown conditions
while simultaneously providing alerts and critical
information to on-site personnel and first responders so they can
determine the best course of action to safely evacuate occupants and
apprehend intruders. At the same time, schools must also implement
policies for performing day-to-day security functions, such as limiting
access to facilities and identifying potential internal threats.
School and campus security teams have a multitude of solutions to
choose from when developing a holistic security plan. Aside from
achieving specific security objectives, this can be a challenging task
when deciding the priority in which selected solutions are deployed
relative to purchase and installation costs, manpower training and
There is no single solution that will provide the comprehensive
security coverage that’s needed to mitigate all security risks. By implementing
security technology as individual tools, and not integrated
solutions, many school security managers are missing out on the
opportunity to provide even more control, convenience, cost savings,
and efficiency to their facilities. In reality, all components should be
viewed and function as one integrated layered security system, especially
for emergency management.
There are foundational elements that should always be included
when configuring a layered security system, including securing the
perimeter, access control, emergency communications, lockdown
capability, and video surveillance.
Secured entrances and exits, no matter their location, are necessary to
track the many individuals that can enter and exit a building each day.
In many cases, door locks are connected to a centralized access control
system that is monitored by security personnel, and can be quickly
opened during an emergency or incident.
Entry control points can be easily established to only allow authorized
individuals initial access to a facility or to specific areas within it,
while also restricting access to high-profile areas. Additional safeguards
to control entry points may include the integration of turnstiles or security
doors, mantraps, video surveillance with analytics, visitor management
systems, intercoms and intrusion detection devices, and more.
An access control system records all access activity so a school has a
complete record of who has entered or exited all entry points, when
they did so, which areas that they accessed (or attempted to access),
and how long they stayed. This is valuable information to help mitigate
current and future security risks. Assigning different access permissions
for employees, visitors, vendors, and First Responders provide
even greater levels of protection and tracking.
A video surveillance system is a useful security tool for any facility, big
or small. The use of video surveillance can resolve many security incidents
that arise and help document liability issues. Organizations that
choose to install IP-based video surveillance systems can take advantage
of the benefits of digital storage, remote monitoring, and analytics
capabilities that may deter crimes or security incidents.
EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS AND LOCKDOWNS
Regardless of whether an emergency occurs because of an intruder, a
threat, or severe weather, system-wide communication is essential for
any school or university. Additional information such as room condition
status inside the facility helps quickly evaluate a situation and
determine the most appropriate response to initiate including lockdown,
shelter-in-place or evacuate. Real-time situational awareness
enhances overall physical security and operational efficiencies.
AN INTEGRATED SOLUTION
When combined, perimeter management, access control, video surveillance
and emergency communications are the foundation for a
safer and more secure educational facility.
These specially engineered emergency notification solutions provide
vital emergency status details to first responders so they can best
help to manage events. A security team can issue an alert to notify
responders of conditions in real time while communicating details
based on the level of the alert. Employees and staff can report their
specific location, enabling first responders to view detailed facility
maps with room-by-room, color-coded conditions that are updated in
real time as the situation evolves. Staff members who are logged in can
use a chat feature to enable two-way communications, issue messages
with response instructions specific to each alert level via email or text
and override any computer on a facility’s network to ensure the highest
visibility of alert status.
Perhaps one of the most comprehensive safeguards of an emergency
notification solution is the ability for a facility’s security team to create
a lockdown alert level and push that notification out to all employees
in seconds while simultaneously locking all doors and blocking credential
readers to everyone except authorized responders.
Security management and administrators at schools face tremendous
pressure to protect the people and assets they oversee, especially in the
case of an emergency. And most often they are supposed to do so with
tight security budgets. That’s even more reason to remove the security
component mentality and purchasing practices and instead, implement
a complete and layered security solution. Simply put, layered security
solutions offer superior protection and risk mitigation.
When tough choices need to be made, a layered
management system provides a “better” solution
while being cost-effective, powerful, and scalable. It’s
the key to making schools safer and more secure.
This article originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of CSLS.