Extending the Perimeter
How audio solutions can protect your campus
- By Dan Rothrock
- August 01, 2021
When the National Center for Education Statistics surveyed
schools about security in 2018, it found that most public
schools in the United States – 95 percent – reported that
they controlled access to buildings during school hours.
That number compares to 75 percent back in 1999.
What can be attributed to the increase? Some might point to the
unfortunate and increasing number and effects from security and
safety incidents within the past decade that have not only upped the
ante on school security, but have also forced security teams to consider
newer, better and faster security solutions to mitigate risks and
to protect lives and property.
In some parts of the United States, school security measures are
required. For example, an examination of school safety and security
data after the February 2018 high school shooting in Parkland, FL,
reveals that 15 states have mandated requirements for school safety.
The data from the Police Foundation found that security requirements
- Intercom solutions
- Restricted visitor access and access controls
- Crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED)
- Emergency and mass notification systems
- Bullet resistant solutions
Another report, by the Education Commission of the States (ECS)
that was released in February 2019, also summarizes statutes and
regulations on K-12 school safety for all 50 states and the District of
Columbia. The report, 50 State Comparison: K-12 School Safety, provides
a synopsis of school safety regulations in each state.
The report provides data for five areas: school safety plans, school safety audits, school safety drills, school
resource officers and weapons in schools. Its
- At least 43 states and the District of Columbia
require districts to have a school safety
plan, many mandating the involvement of
local law enforcement.
- About 13 states and the District of Columbia
mandate safety audits at school facilities,
some with the help of local law
- At least 42 states require schools to conduct
safety or security drills, such as active
shooter, evacuation, lockdown and emergency
- About 28 states and the District of Columbia
require specific training for school
resource officers either similar to law
enforcement training or tailored to the
- At least 30 states and the District of Columbia
allow school security staff, including
school resource officers, to carry firearms in
school. Some states allow other school
employees or concealed carry permit holders
to carry firearms in schools. Other states
allow local districts to decide if firearms are
allowed in their schools in any capacity.
Defending the Perimeter with Audio
Whether security teams are required to have
security technology and safety plans in place
or not, pushing the perimeter further out is
an effective method to mitigate school security
It’s not a new concept. For example, at
Metlife Stadium, home of the New York Jets
and entertainment events, the perimeter
begins at the stadium’s parking lot entrance,
where larger vehicles that enter the Meadowlands
Sports Complex parking lots are well
outside the visitor parking areas and away
from the stadium. The ingress program
includes a 40-foot standoff area for observation
of fans followed by inspection, including
pat downs and/or baggage checks, all of
which take place at the entrance to the stadium,
prior to ticket scanning.
How can audio and HD voice play a role
with perimeter security?
For instance, at a school entrance, video
intercom solutions with HD voice can identify
parents and visitors, and help school staff
and security teams quickly determine if the
person should enter the school, or not.
Moving out to the school’s outer areas, PA
speakers are easy to install and offer excellent
two-way communications, in all conditions.
School security teams, using video surveillance,
can see a person trying to enter the
school perimeter, and either determine,
through audio, why they are there, or direct
them to leave.
Emergency stanchions, which are commonly
used when an individual needs assistance
or to help deter crime, don’t have to
only be used for emergencies. They can be
employed to provide a visual and audio indicator,
to help security teams to identify visitors
and vendors outside of a school’s
entrances and exit points. They can also be
employed within school parking lots, far
from a school entrance and exit areas. Once
activated by the user, campus security can
pull up a video feed and see and hear who
wants access to the school or approved visitors
need information such as directions to
another area of the campus.
At exterior fences and gates, which may
still be on school property but a distance
away from a school’s entrances, intercom
solutions with HD audio can be mounted on
the fence to help school security teams to
identify persons, from a distance.
There are Numerous Benefits
The benefits of implementing these measures
and extending the school security perimeter
First, it means that your security solution
is interactive. Security teams talk and listen
to the person that’s seen on a video surveillance
system, via the intercom, no matter
where the location or where a person is on
school grounds. A clear voice and sound
clarify the intent behind the images that are
captured on a camera and increases situational
Audio can also detect voices, noises or
other sounds that are not within direct view
of a video camera. Those sounds can be analyzed
by a security team and action can be
taken before the person gets to the school
entrance and doors.
Adding audio to your strategy also means
that a security officer and the person in front
of the camera at the intercom, can interact,
even when that person is at outer perimeters,
which, if they have ill intent, is where you
want them to stay until your security team
can arrive on scene. That data, which goes
beyond video surveillance images, can be
shared between security, police, emergency
services and more. Your security team is now
providing first responders with actionable
data for a more effective response to the incident
and a strategy to mitigate future incidents.
Every K-12 school security team faces
increasingly complex threat environments.
Increasingly, audio is the new value hub for
K-12 schools, providing intelligence and
communications and allowing people to the
need to hear, be heard, and be understood in
virtually any environment.
In today’s risk environment for schools, a
silent security system cannot be an effective
security system. Extending the perimeter by
incorporating audio via intercom solutions
can help security teams to stay well ahead of
security and safety threats.
This article originally appeared in the July / August 2021 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.