Installation of video cameras at those perimeter doors will enable staff members to quickly assess an alarm event. Areas for potential congregation of large number of students such as lunch rooms, gymnasiums and hallways are other places where cameras are typically located. Exterior areas under surveillance may also include the athletic fields and playgrounds, the parking lots and areas such as the school bus stop. Cameras may be viewed live on monitors located in the administrative areas or at the lobby security reception desk. Most often the camera views are only recorded for review after an event has occurred.
Depending on the age of the installed CCTV system, the recording medium could consist of video cassette recorders (VCR), digital video recorders (DVR) or a network video recorder (NVR). Newly installed systems will most likely consist of IP cameras that can be viewed via the school or district IT network with images stored on a computer’s hard drive that resides on the same network. A number of large municipalities have upgraded to these types of digital camera systems which provide the ability to view images from a central district location and send images to emergency response vehicles during a crisis situation.
During times when the school premises are unoccupied, commercial burglar alarm systems can be used to monitor unauthorized entry. Activation of devices such as motion sensors, glass-break detectors and door position switches will alert and notify a central station or a designated staff member. Building environmental alarm events as well as secondary fire system alarm signals can also be transmitted to designated responders using this system’s communication medium. Interfacing this system with the electronic access system is recommended when both systems are used within the same facility to provide after-hours intrusion monitoring of card reader-controlled doors.
Hard-wired telephones located in all classrooms and offices provide a simple and reliable means of communication in the event of an emergency or crisis. Cell phones in the right hands can be lifesavers as long as they are charged and have good reception. Professional quality radios that operate on FCC reserved frequencies for school districts should be a high priority for daily operation as well as emergencies to permit communication with first responders. School districts contemplating a system with many users spread over a large area may want to consider a trunked repeater system which can function like cell phones and permit simultaneous broadcast of messages to multiple users.
Past school tragedies have made many districts realize that school violence can occur anywhere and at any time and have taken a proactive approach towards protecting their children. A large number of districts across the country have opted to move towards technology solutions.
Fred Miehl is a Certified Protection Professional with the consulting firm Aggleton and Associates. He is a member of the American Society for Industrial Security, and a past member of its Standing Committee for Banking and Finance; he is also a member of the International Association of Professional Security Consultants.