School security is a growing concern especially in the United States where a series of school attacks have wiped dozens of lives in the past few years. Gun attacks are not the only security issue schools have to deal with, however. The premises of educational organizations are public places where one should manage a complex flow of visitors – ranging from scholars to educators to students to a variety of one-time and frequent visitors.
These institutions have to manage both identity of visitors and access to certain areas and facilities. For instance, even a schoolteacher may be restricted in terms of access to certain rooms while visitors may have been permitted only to specific areas of the campus or the school building.
Those measures require implementation of often quite complex access management systems amidst growing security concerns across schools and other public institutions. It is not surprising then that the physical identity and access management market is estimated to double from $272 million in 2014 to $546 million in 2019.
Specifics of Security Arrangement for a School
Providing reliable campus safety and security is difficult. Unlike office building where you have a few points of entry, you should usually secure multiple buildings and wide open areas in the nearby surroundings. This in turn requires adoption of a mix of security measures and access control methods.
Video surveillance may be good to monitor open spaces but it is a passive method and can only complement a viable school security plan. School security, in fact, is impossible without having security personnel placed at each single entry point. By combining video monitoring and dedicated security guards, a school can take preventive measures against undesired visits and pay special attention to visitors who look like a potential threat.
Security for schools should also include a well-designed plan for access control once a visitor enters the campus area or a school building. Obviously, you have to restrict access to some rooms and areas, which is only possible through a system of electronic badges/cards, key fobs, and/or door locks that use advanced authentication methods.
A visitor’s card, for instance, could provide access only to a designated conference room where, say, parents are allowed to meet teachers. An advanced system would be able track even the route of a visitors and his/her current location within the campus or a specific building.Without becoming paranoid, a school may decide to implement door locks that always require access rights on entry while providing free passage out for persons who are already in the room.
Evidently, security for schools should also include emergency situations such as fire or gas leakage. Therefore, an all-encompassing security system should feature sensors for CO2 and other harmful gases as well as a fire alarm. Then, you should have an evacuation plan in place that takes into account various scenarios and envisages safe routes for evacuation even when one or more of the area exits are blocked or inaccessible. The more backup emergency action plans you have the better, for emergencies often develop in unplanned ways.
Also, you need power backup and surge protection to ensure all your safety and security systems are operational all the time. The security of any public institution is a mix of factors to consider while you should eliminate countless number of possibilities.
Systems for Campus Safety and Security
You cannot draft a universal blueprint for campus safety and security. Each school has specifics, including building details that should be taken into account. Hence, school security is more about a well thought system of safety and security measures rather than installing random electronic devices.
Even the most basic electronic visitor management system should feature ID capabilities, connection to a searchable database, and automatic door access. You should add one-time ID card printing to complete the basic functionality of an access control system for spaces with huge visitor traffic such as colleges and universities.
Such a security system provides a certain level of security for both school students and teachers as well as for visitors. For instance, you can instantly get report on the number of visitors in the secured area in case of emergency. A more advanced system will provide also visitors’ locations within the secure perimeter.
Here is how such a system works in practice:
- Visitor approaches the school’s entry point
- Camera takes photo of the visitor on entry
- The system records all required details of the visitor
- A visitor badge with photograph of the visitor is issued
- Access rights are assigned to the visitor (electronic card)
- The visitor detail are entered into the system and he/she enters the area
- The software records all visit details exit time for each visitor.
The above list is not complete and a school/college security system may feature other and more advanced functionalities. For example, an organization may decide to track their visitors in real time, which, however, requires a lot of effort and marked investment in both software and security personnel.
On the other hand, despite all the human errors in regard to security at public places, the physical presence of security guards is still a major preemptive safety and security measure. By combining a reliable school safety and security system with trained security staff, you actually get the ultimate protection for a school.