The New Curriculum
Administration now faced with new solutions for maintain health safety
- By Bill Brennan
- December 14, 2020
School security has taken on a new dimension as the result of the
2020 pandemic. Whereas school administrators have traditionally
been concerned with maintaining high levels of physical
security to protect students, staff and property, they are now
faced with implementing new solutions that also help maintain
health safety. This has stimulated a heightened demand for new technologies
and system solutions that deliver both security and health
safety, further complicating the already difficult task that K-12 schools
face when looking to procure and implement new security technologies.
As with any public or private facility, school administrators need to
implement proactive measures to assess external and internal threats,
so they can detect them and hopefully prevent them from evolving
into critical events.
A detailed threat assessment will allow them to create a systematic
plan that includes standard operating procedures supported by the
right combination of physical security technologies that best fulfill
their specific needs. The assessment should address the longstanding
daily challenges that K-12 schools face, from smoking and fighting, to
theft and vandalism, to the active shooters and new health safety
issues brought to light by COVID-19.
Yet, it is important to note that the same technologies applied for
security and health safety applications aren’t all centered around
threats, as they can also be used as an administrative tool for operations
and facility applications such as graduation and academic ceremonies,
sports events, concerts and dances and on-campus traffic
The Need for a Needs Assessment Report
K-12 school administrators must first define their specific needs to
understand the challenges and the potential threats they pose, so they
can implement the best system solution possible. The first step is to
develop a risk assessment report, which is a prerequisite for any discussion
and decision regarding the deployment of technology solutions.
The assessment report should be compiled by qualified experts and
can consist of one or more of the following:
- Security systems integrator/consultant specialized in
- Local police and fire officials (ability varies by jurisdiction)
- Department of Homeland Security (for national studies
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (for response processes)
- Center for Disease Control (for the latest healthcare
threats and safeguards against them)
- Internal assessment based on specific location/environment
Combining the perspectives of various security and safety experts
is crucial to identify and address physical security, operational and
health threat challenges that may not be top of mind for school
administrators who are primarily focused on education.
In most new school construction, architects and security consultants
are opting for a single point of entry, which provides a chokepoint
for incoming traffic and allows for comprehensive security
screening, visitor vetting and efficient staff-distribution.
Many campus designs are also integrating the practice of security
and crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) to
leverage natural perimeter defenses like landscaping, perimeter
boundary definition and security-enhanced traffic patterns with
enhanced security technologies to better protect and monitor exterior
spaces and interior corridors and classrooms.
Redefining points of entry and implementing CPTED tactics may
also be possible for enhancements to pre-existing facilities. In either
scenario, every additional layer of security helps further establish a
balance between preventing threats, improving operations and making
sure schools and campuses instill an open, welcoming environment
that promotes learning.
Defining System-wide Parameters
Given all of the present-day challenges, K-12 schools across the country
are actively investigating new technology solutions to help keep
people, property and assets safe. Maintaining the human element in
new technology solutions is important, as is selecting solutions that
meet a school’s specific immediate and future needs, while being efficient, simple to use and cost-effective.
A systems integrator and solution provider with specific experience
in K-12 school and campus security and safety have the knowledge
and resources to help school administrators navigate the entire
process, from securing project funding through system design,
implementation and training.
On a school district-wide basis, security consultants and systems
integrators mainly agree on the importance of deploying a common
physical security platform solution across multiple locations, including
off-campus administration facilities where applicable. A common-
systems approach can lead to simplicity of operation, ease of
training and reduced service and maintenance costs. It is also a significant
benefit when planning to upgrade or expand the system.
Navigating the Process
Once a comprehensive security and safety risk assessment has been
completed, school administrators can effectively evaluate their security
infrastructure and assess their procedural and technology shortcomings
to prioritize their investment and maximize the school’s
security posture. In most cases, K-12 needs assessment reports will
indicate the necessity for foundational video surveillance, intelligent
analytics, access control, and alarm and event notification solutions,
which may appear to be cost-prohibitive relative to existing school
budgets and the size of the school and/or district.
Budget hurdles can undoubtedly lead to less than stellar outcomes.
School administrators often find themselves looking at multi-layered
system solutions from various vendors due to low-bid procurement
practices. This often creates a lack of real ownership of the total system
architecture and can result in weak system deployments, performance
and ongoing management. This makes it important for school administrators
to align themselves with the right technology partners from the
start. If not, schools can get stuck for years looking to secure funding for
technology solutions that may be outdated before they are even deployed.
To best meet the plethora of security and safety challenges K-12
school systems now face requires a new and innovative approach.
One such example is the recently launched Panasonic i-PRO Secure
Campus program, which makes it easier for school administrators
and security staff to discover, procure and implement the security
technologies and solutions they need. By sharing the ultimate objective
of providing learning environments where students and teachers
feel confident that they are safe and secure, the goal is to streamline
and accelerate all of the processes required to implement enhanced or
new security solutions – from securing grants to consultation, product
specification, installation and after-the-sale support.
This article originally appeared in the November December 2020 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.