An Essential Access
As K-12 campuses reopen this fall, hygiene safety solutions sought
- By Paul Hefty
- August 01, 2021
The past two school years have presented
many challenges with virtual classrooms,
hybrid programs, and increased
hygiene measures being implemented
in K-12 and higher learning educational
facilities. As schools prepare to enter a
new year, the emphasis on health safety won’t
disappear, but with educational facilities
reaching full in-person capacity, other security
concerns will again resurface. As they
reopen doors and implement new technologies
and policies, many K-12 and higher education
institutions will be searching for solutions
that will promote hygiene safety while
also offering enhanced security.
Intercom solutions have long been a fixture
on educational campuses of all sizes.
From basic audio-only systems to IP video
intercom systems, intercoms have been a
go-to solution because they are cost-effective
and easy to use. Once thought to be a basic
security tool, intercoms can now be combined
with video and other security peripherals,
offering decision-makers the ability to
solve multiple pain points.
Campus-wide occupancy management
Pre-pandemic, many educational institutions
were focused on enhancing visitor
management as threats to student safety have
become more prevalent. While educational
facilities have long utilized intercoms to
manage access, now it’s more important than
ever to ensure the safety of students and staff
by thoroughly vetting all those who enter a
building on campus.
Intercom capabilities have extended far
beyond their original functionality. What
was once a simple speaker connected to a
telephone can now be an IP video system
offering visual verification that the person
requesting access into a school building does
indeed belong there. Pairing an intercom
with a camera allows for this important, realtime
visual communication between the
front office and those requesting access.
For campuses planning to utilize new thermographic
technology, IP intercom systems
can be used in tandem – allowing operators to
communicate specific safety protocols to staff
or students before they are granted access. For
example, if a parent is dropping off a student
at a school that requires temperature checks
before admittance, they can approach the
intercom located at the campus entrance
where they can communicate with front
office. The designated staff member can then
talk to the parent and student through proper
protocols and ensure the student is within the
temperature guidelines to be granted access.
Mobile apps for convenient access control
Mobile access is a capability many are looking
for today, as it offers the ability to manage full
access control capabilities from a mobile app.
There’s also increased flexibility when working
from a mobile app. For example, if a campus
is not able to staff the lobby of a main
building or dormitory, they can remotely
manage access from a mobile device. This
enables security personnel to access video
feeds and directly communicate with the student
or staff member requesting access to a
building. This is also an efficient and safe way
for campus deliveries to be made.
The past year has taught us that it’s no longer
enough to only manage access to main
entry points and exits of any educational
facility. Campuses will now have to manage
occupancy levels in classrooms, living facilities,
common areas, and recreational buildings.
End-users will find value in a video
intercom solution that enables them to
directly communicate instructions to those
requesting access, ensure identity and proper
credentialing, and help maintain the overall
health and safety of all those who pass
through their doors.
Enhanced campus security
and perimeter protection
For campus staff, it’s critical to see how many
people are requesting entry at a door where
access is managed – as well as who is at the
door. If a person is requesting access into a
science laboratory where only certain people
are allowed, a video intercom provides a safe
way to confirm identity. This is also of great
importance in college dormitories where visitor
access might be limited, or not allowed at
all. This solution can also be particularly valuable
if a student has lost an access control card
and is requesting access to a gym, library, or
other shared common area.
Additionally, an IP system can integrate
with cameras and a network video recorder.
Video can be streamed to a third-party NVR
– offering a 24/7 campus security system.
This offers increased security, as campus
safety officers can easily request logs from
certain dates and times. For example, if
someone accessed a building after hours, or
if there’s unknown activity at an access point,
security could access saved video footage to
see who’s been there. For campuses who use
mobile apps, or access control cards, daily
activity logs are retained– allowing security
staff to review in case of an incident on-site.
With crime on campuses being a continued
safety concern, security directors have a
wider range of potential threats to manage.
From post-pandemic hygiene safety concerns,
to active shooter situations and general
student safety; these threats are unlikely
to decrease, as campuses start to fully open.
Now is the time for educational facilities to
review existing security infrastructure and
choose an option offering convenience of use
for students, staff and visitors – as well as
enhanced security and peace of mind.
This article originally appeared in the July / August 2021 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.