Modern Methods of Securing Schools

Today's access-control and video-surveillance systems can work together to provide a holistic solution for educational environments

Today's access-control and video-surveillance systems can work together to provide a holistic solution for educational environments. Keeping intruders off campus, limiting access to facilities that house expensive equipment, and remotely monitoring secluded areas can cut down significantly on crime and provide peace of mind to administrators, teachers, staff, students and parents. To create an optimal environment for learning, schools need to offer cutting-edge security measures.

An integrated access-control platform is key to creating a system that works together smoothly and seamlessly. Such a system should offer an intelligent, customizable way to integrate essential security functions, including access control and video surveillance, so that everything can be monitored from a single screen at a control center.

Smart features
Security-system software has come a long way. Video tagged to event details, such as a front door opening during school hours, automatically alerts guards viewing the monitors and starts the recording mechanism on the video recorder when breaches occur.

Some campuses allow any valid staff cardholder access to all areas of a facility at any time, but access-control systems can limit who has access to secure areas and what times that access is permitted. Access-management systems will control visitor access and be able to generate reports that show who had entered an area during the times property losses have occurred. Thus, if the orchestra is missing an instrument over a weekend, a school can determine who was in the room from Friday through Sunday.

Because access-control badges on campus also serve as ID cards, the next step will be designing the cards. What should your access-control cards look like? Effective design allows an unfamiliar cardholder to be identified easily by staff members. In most cases, that means photo badges. Keep badge design clean, including only information that is necessary for teachers and security personnel to identify people. If social security numbers are used as employee numbers, do not include them on cards.

New staff will come on-board, transfer students will enroll and others will lose their badges, so schools should buy equipment to print photo badges on-site. In addition, schools should charge a fee for printing cards and a minimal administration fee for replacement cards. These fees will deter cardholders from managing their credentials irresponsibly.

Bridging the gap
One of the biggest issues facing administrators is making the transition from analog CCTV systems to digital. Digital systems have many additional capabilities. Even with a spate of new digital products, the currently installed video systems are primarily analog-based.

These older systems generally do not provide campus staff with the level of security desired. For example, a digital system would allow a college to focus a camera on the entrance to a residence hall during the night and, if a door opens, program the system to provide an alert and have the camera start recording.

In the near future, security products will require network environments to operate. That means that managers will need to create network platforms that support intelligent video and other vertical productivity tools. For, as the CCTV system is being used as a security device to observe threats and fraud, it also must be available for other uses on campus, from curriculum designers to student teachers, who are facing the same infrastructure and virtual systems challenges.

A seamless solution
Security and facility management can be integrated into one system. All applications can be viewed within a single, common, easy-to-use interface. All hardware, even video, alarm and printing equipment, will work seamlessly within its framework.

Entering security and facilities data just once, and having the framework synchronize with existing hardware and software automatically, is happening on many campuses. With a standards-based command-and-control integration platform, campuses and districts can integrate multiple aspects of their security and facility management within a single screen.

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