Security’s in Session

Technology and safety part of the lesson plan


“When I speak to school educators, I talk to them about all this,” Kieta said. “I ask them if they want to continued to be siloed or implement an effective master plan campus wide. And they can’t do this with technology only. They have to have a formal security plan and policy in place and technology that’s married together.”

“We as integrators have to affect changes. The trend is toward planning intelligently. There’s a big convergence in logical and physical security but it hasn’t happened yet.”

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Technology for Security’s Sake

How security dealers can best serve the education market

By: Jeff Floreno and Luis Quiles

How can value added resellers (VARs) bring schools solutions that work, yielding powerful results and satisfied customers? The answer lies in implementing technology - not for technology’s sake - but for security’s sake. Here are some best practices for doing so.

Schools’ unique situation

Administrators operate under extremely tight budgets. Given their focus on educating students, it should not be a surprise to find that they have little to no expertise in security. Administrators also face the challenge of offering open environments, where students can move in and out of spaces easily and quickly, and where visitors, parents and staff can move in and out of the buildings throughout the day.

VARs really add their value by guiding school decision-makers through the process of identifying the root challenges, selecting the right technologies, setting the right expectations, and training the individuals who will use the technology. This requires getting to know the school, its security challenges, and developing an understanding of where the current security systems and processes fall short in the current environment.

Benefits of IP Video: A Refresher

Sometimes schools have legacy equipment already in place, but in other cases, they are greenfield environments. Many of these schools have already invested in the IT network, which is their lifeline for daily educational activities and administration of the school. They are familiar with the concept of integrating IP appliances on the network and appreciate the accessibility of systems via a PC. But many of these schools have not considered the value of their IT network for supporting dependable, high-performance security systems. For schools that are not completely familiar with the benefits of IP video and access control solutions over analog technology, here’s a quick refresher.

Unlike analog technology - both as it applies to video and access control - IP technology is not a closed system requiring specialized cabling. Network video cameras and IP access control components are just like any other peripheral running on the existing IT network such as a printer or a scanner. Software is just another application running on the PC. Equipment can be added onto the network at any time, as long as the network has bandwidth to support them. These systems are also easily controlled via software across multiple locations.

Managed on the existing IT network, IP solutions are more accessible, more manageable, and simpler than ever. The result is a system that is much easier to use, and is therefore used more frequently and more proactively than legacy security systems. VARs contribute significant value by helping their education customers think through this process.

Understand their needs

The obvious first step in serving any customer is to understand their needs. This can be particularly challenging with schools because their actual needs may be confused with perceived needs. For example, following the shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007, many schools urgently purchased emergency notification systems, which can instantly send critical information out to the student body and staff via email and text message. While this system may well have been a great security solution for Virginia Tech, it may not be appropriate or the top priority for schools with a less sophisticated security program. Yet emergency notification systems were the subject of much media attention at the time and were touted as the latest and greatest, not as one element of a comprehensive security program. The most valuable thing a VAR can do is to help schools truly evaluate their security needs and educate them on their options and needs. There are numerous reasonably priced assessment tools that can help VARs and their school customers consider their most critical issues. A simpler approach may be for the administration to simply outline their goals and, based on their history of security incidents, determine their top priorities and develop a road map for remediation.

Consider the budget

Schools rarely have the budget to meet their needs. VARs must be prepared to access funds over time, growing systems as dollars become available. They must also work with schools to come up with the most cost-effective solutions. This may mean integrating new security solutions with existing legacy systems where possible. Encoders can help bring analog cameras online with new IP cameras, working seamlessly and all managed by enterprise-grade software. Similarly, IP access control solutions that offer enterprise-level control of access via entrances and exits can be integrated with existing access control hardware already in place on some doors. This strategy moves away from a “break-fix” approach and instead replaces old technology with new technology when it has reached the end of its life cycle. Leveraging the school’s resources in this fashion is one way to show you are committed to helping minimize the initial out of pocket expense.

VARs can also help schools by offering them training to manage and install their own systems. Schools like to prepare in-house resources for installation and maintenance of the system, allowing them to troubleshoot problems and manage the system to save money over the long-term.

Jeff Floreno, is the director of Security Operations and Strategy for Wren; Luis Quiles is the channel sales manager at Wren.; visit www.wrensolutions.com

Teachers Say Schools Lack Security

A national survey reveals that more than one out of 10 teachers believe their school is unprepared to protect kids. The results are part of the second annual ADT Back-to-School Survey conducted by Zogby International.

Asked for reasons to explain how they felt, four in 10 of those teachers said their school was not doing enough to help protect students, while three in 10 said they believed their school is vulnerable to an attack by outside predators. Other frequently mentioned concerns included:

* Worry that students would bring a weapon onto the campus--24 percent

* Students being involved with street gangs--12 percent

* Worry about violence happening in other schools--12 percent

* Not enough awareness of dangers to students on campus--10 percent

According to Patrick Fiel, public safety advisor for ADT Security Services, campus violence is a national concern for teachers in both rural and urban areas.

“As shown by the recent murder of a beloved high school football coach at a small town in Iowa or an assault by a student on a Philadelphia teacher, school violence is truly a national problem that affects all school districts,” said Fiel. “One of the keys to success is creating a dialogue between parents, teachers and administrators to create solutions for this growing problem.”