For the higher education level, funding continues to be a major challenge to improve safety and security.
According to Giannini, a lot of school districts also try to get funding through referendum or bond drives where they will create a bond issue and put it on the ballot. And although higher education has evolved the ability to get into those endowment funds has become a little more difficult for universities. "So even at the higher education level, they still struggle to find funding sources to do a lot of the safety and security things that a university would like," continued Giannini.
Different types of grants available in higher education include competitive grants; noncompetitive grants; grants from the Department of Homeland Security at the federal and state level; and grants from the U.S Department of Education.
One such grant program offered through the Department of Education is The Emergency Management for Higher Education (EMHE) grant program. It supports institutions of higher education (IHE) projects designed to develop, or review and improve, and fully integrate campus-based all-hazards emergency management planning efforts.
"When schools submit their application for the EMHE grant program, they have to come in with some partnerships-they have to show that they are partnering with law enforcement and the first responders in the community," explained Modzelewski.
University and college campuses consist of multiple buildings, thousands of students, faculty and staff and security needs are significantly higher. Although cost is a major concern for security personnel at such environments, campuses need to have a plan to effectively implement what security they want to put in place and where they are going to get funding to do that.
"In the higher education space, you've got more creative vehicles-[for example], introducing surcharges for student IDs so that the credential that is issued is actually a smart card as opposed to just an unintelligent, plastic credential," explained Kieta. "So if I implement a surcharge, I can defray the cost and offload it to the student population, and in doing that, position a crucial part of security application that would roll out as part of the master plan."
One area in education where we are seeing increased interest and adoption - which might leave one to believe that the schools themselves feel that this area is lacking - is in the sharing of security technology and video, according to Nilsson. "With IP surveillance, multi-campus facilities and individual school districts can access and share live video amongst key personnel, such as superintendents, principals or university presidents'. Additionally, in a crisis situation, video can be accesses by law enforcement with handheld devices in order to immediately assess the situation and gain control."
The role of the integrator
It may seem simple enough to an outsider that the role of a systems integrator in the education vertical would be to find a setting for which their solution would apply, bid on a project, and if and when they would be the winning bid, to than start the installation procedure with a client. Some integrators may feel that worrying about how to get funding for their client for a project is not their responsibility. But it's clear that for those integrators that want to be successful, it's not just about applying their solution to a specific vertical but also about understanding the space that they are working in and what challenges that sector faces.
"The integrator that is going to be successful will focus on understanding the needs of that customer," explained Kieta. "Integrators who have focused on and targeted the education space, whether it's K-12 or higher education or trade schools, if they focused on it and spent time to research and understand that market segment, they are positioned to bring solutions that apply to that market segment, assist in the demand and creation process and then capture those projects and be profitable but in many cases, it's not just about a technology deployment; it's about a marriage of policy and technology to affect the desired outcome."