A Learning Environment

A Learning Environment

How innovations promote security and privacy on the campus

As we embark on a new decade, it’s important to assess the changing landscape in the life safety and access control industry. On campuses across the United States, the security and privacy landscape looks dramatically different than it did ten, or even five years ago. Threats have evolved, security has been questioned and reevaluated and guidelines to promote safety on campuses have been tightened and redefined.

Simultaneously, cultural and demographic changes on campuses are continuing to evolve. For example, as gender neutral spaces and private areas for study and meditation become more common on campus, it has raised a host of new concerns about protecting student safety and privacy.

One solution considered by access control professionals is status indicators. Applying interior and exterior indicators, that clearly display whether a room is in-use or vacant, to the door’s existing mortise locks continue to provide the occupants safety while preventing an unnecessary interruption while these spaces are in use.

The ultimate goal is to reduce risk and still maintain open access and inclusivity for students and staff while also ensuring the latest building codes and standards are met.

Security in Emergency Situations

In December 2018, a report issued by the Federal Commission on School Safety recognized the importance of locks in emergency situations. The report noted that “depending on their construction and configuration, classroom doors can significantly delay or prevent an attacker from reaching individuals within a classroom, thereby providing a safe area for students and staff during a lockdown.”

Innovations. As a result, innovations in door opening solutions and enhanced window glass and attack resistant solutions have been introduced to the market and are being installed during new con- struction or retrofitted to existing models. School districts across the U.S. have already begun implementing these changes for either the perimeter of the building, the interior classroom doors, or both.

Upgraded locks. The report also called for upgraded locks that allow teachers to lock doors from the inside, with or without the use of a key, but with the ability to unlock the door from the outside by authorized personnel in the event of an emergency.

Thumbturn operation. Applying existing technology to a durable mortise lock, like a thumbturn operation, eliminates the need for a key from the interior and enables quicker action. Such locks are inherently useful in emergency situations when it’s necessary to lock or unlock an exit quickly by simply rotating the thumbturn. This might be an obvious enhancement, but its implementation increases reliability and reduces complexity in high-stress moments when it may be difficult to engage fine motor skills needed to insert a key.

The standards. Meeting standards and guidelines is just the bare minimum. The industry needs to constantly be on the lookout for new ways to exceed these standards, especially when the potential tradeoff is risking the safety of those around us.

The Lock Status Solution

We shouldn’t be content with developing products that just meet standards. As innovators in our industry, it is incumbent upon us to not only meet those standards and codes, but to go beyond and exceed them where possible to secure all types of environments to decrease risk and increase safety.

Universities and schools across the United States should look at the latest technology, tools and innovations available to enhance the safety of its classrooms, buildings and more, as well as providing the comfort and safety of an inclusive environment.

Lock status indicators are an easy upgrade to consider. The latest in mortise lock status indicators include enhancements that make the access status of a room or space obvious to its occupants. Larger viewing windows, added reflective coating and new curved designs are some of the benefits of new mortise locks with a lasting impact:

  • Large Viewing Window – Larger viewing windows allow those inside and outside of the space to see whether a door is locked or unlocked from farther away.
  • Reflective Coating – An added reflective coating makes it easier to view the lock status in low-light conditions, ensuring safety and privacy at all times of the day and night.
  • Curved Design – A curved design provides the ability to view the lock status from any angle.
  • Durable and Reliable – Reliable and durable security option that meets the specifications laid out by the Federal Commission on School Safety for classroom environments.

Status indicators are a versatile and affordable tool that can address a multitude of concerns. By supporting the ability to lock with a key or thumbturn from the inside, with just a quick glance, faculty, staff, students and security personnel can confirm their safety in emergency situations where seconds can make all the difference. Additionally, that quick glance encourages an inclusive and comfortable environment for all members on campus.

Guidelines and safety standards will certainly continue to evolve with the times, designed to defend us against the latest threats and keep us safe – history has shown us that they will. But our job as an industry of innovators isn’t merely to meet them, it’s to surpass them. Not for a competitive edge in the marketplace, but to protect the future innovators at schools and on campuses around the country.

This article originally appeared in the March April 2020 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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