K-12 Security: Mobile Duress for K-12

Aug. 22, 2013
How dealers and integrators can make people protection systems a valuable reality

In light of the growing number of tragic events taking place across our country, K-12 school safety is often addressed in the media as the need to prevent active shooters and weapons at school. As a result, a host of technologies have been designed and deployed to keep the “bad guys” out of schools, including installation of access control, video and intrusion detection systems.

To their credit, many of these solutions do an excellent job of making school buildings more secure; however, there also are a number of other factors that play into more common causes of violence and threats to safety at K-12 schools beyond the concern over active shooters.

Bullying, assaults and parental disputes occur every single day on K-12 campuses. These have no socioeconomic, gender or racial borders — and they occur at every school regardless of location. More often than not, these are the root causes of the high-profile, very violent events.

“Schools report that more than a quarter of a million students are being physically attacked during the school day per month,” according to www.stoppingschoolviolence.com. Another study, conducted by the Kaiser Foundation, Nickelodeon TV and Children Now, states that nearly 75 percent of pre-teen students confirm that bullying at school occurs on a regular basis. This evidence points to an obvious need for a people protection solution in the K-12 setting that not only incorporates a layer of security for students, staff and parents, but promotes an altogether safer environment. The key to success is starting at the administrative level.

Selling Mobile Duress
A security integrator can play an important role in educating school administration on the importance people protection systems, otherwise known as Enterprise Mobile Duress Systems (EMDS). These systems can play a key role in preventing bullying situations from turning into tragic events. Integrators who educate themselves on the benefits and best practices of what a reliable people protection system can offer and provide — and how it can prevent these incidents from occurring in the first place — can become an integral part of the school administration’s commitment in thwarting unwanted violence in K-12 school systems.

According to “Early Warning, Timely Response – A Guide for Safe Schools,” published by the U.S. Department of Education, schools must have an emergency response plan that includes “an effective, fool-proof communication system. Individuals must have designated roles and responsibilities to prevent confusion,” and, “a process for securing immediate external support from law enforcement officials and other relevant agencies.” Check out the full guide at www.nasponline.org/resources/handouts/guide.pdf.

Fortunately, today’s security integrators have a variety of technology solutions available to address these requirements. An EMDS compliments and extends that solution suite by focusing on personalizing early warning and notification, hopefully before an event turns into an emergency or crisis.

Characteristics of an effective EMDS include:
• Location capabilities so responders can quickly offer help where it is needed.
• A simple and easy-to-use mobile duress pendant that is carried by individuals and discretely activated from any location on school grounds triggering an appropriate response; and
• A reliable, fit-for-purpose wireless communication network to ensure the signal gets through when time is of the essence.

As many security integrators know, just because something is “wireless” does not mean that it is reliable for life-safety and available everywhere on a school campus. Some wireless technologies are not able to transmit through harsh environments where there is RF interference, outdoor obstacles, cement walls and other challenging construction or RF environments. This is where security integrators can help educate school administrators and staff on the best practices and requirements needed for installing a reliable, life-safety grade people protection system.

To achieve full effectiveness beyond the physical components, security dealers and integrators should work with administrators to make EMDS part of a school’s overall strategy by promoting proper practices and training to better face and respond to bullies, threats and violent incidents. In its most effective form, an EMDS will help create a culture that does not tolerate violence and supports an effective response system in the event of a threatening incident. 

Mark Jarman is president of Inovonics, a provider of high-performance wireless sensor networks for people protection systems, such as Enterprise Mobile Duress (EMD), commercial and life safety applications. Reach him at [email protected]. Request more info about Inovonics at www.securityinfowatch.com/10213994.

About the Author

Mark Jarman

Mark Jarman is President of Inovonics (www.inovonics.com). He has served in the security and wireless industry for more than two decades. He can be reached at [email protected].