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School security: Have you got the basics right?

School security: Have you got the basics right?
Despite several public debates about shooting incidents in schools, the reality is that the threat of gun violence in educational institutions has not been brought under control. The latest incident at a school in Indiana is proof of that.

The security industry has, for long, been trying to inform and educate the public about the need for comprehensive solutions in schools to ward of threats. Going beyond the basic security devices, companies have suggested active shooter detection systems and even indoor positioning systems that would enable better communication in the event of an incident.

But as a systems integrator, it is critical to get the basics right before venturing into advanced systems. Here are some of the most key factors that must be prioritized when securing schools.

1. Perimeter Security: This might sound obvious to most, but a proper fence that makes it difficult for an intruder to enter the campus is an effective way to discourage intruders. Of course, this, in itself, will not stop a determined active shooter but will provide a basic level of protection.

2. Entry Management: In an article, Tyco Integrated Security points out the importance of having an efficient entry management system. While a single main entrance is ideal, it is important to make sure that all entrances are constantly monitored. “If this is not possible, classrooms should have locks, ideally with a sturdy center mullion,” the company noted. “Door handles and push bars should be flush with the door to prevent them from being tied together to hinder law enforcement or emergency exit.”

While we are on the topic of entrances, it is also important to note that schools should have an effective visitor management system that keeps track of all those who enter and leave the campus. This should extend beyond entrances to parking lots and other areas. The right technology can be a boon here to screen visitors and track their identity before they are allowed inside.

3. Security Solutions: A strong security solution will include video monitoring systems, panic buttons, etc., apart from any advanced solutions like shooter detection solutions that could be integrated with the other devices. “These systems offer schools more control over perimeters and can include panic alarms and video monitoring for the central office and classrooms that further safety precautions,” Tyco suggests. “By alerting authorities to a potentially dangerous situation more quickly, schools can increase their ability to manage possible threats.”

4. Situational Awareness and Other Measures: Keeping a close eye on what is happening on the campus at all times and especially during dismissal and arrival times, could prove critical to ensuring security. Detecting threats at the earliest is essential to their proper management. Apart from this, schools should audit their security measures periodically. Security threats evolve, and protection systems should be able to keep up with it, if not remain one step ahead. Letting the local community be a part of the solution is also advisable. “Awareness that a security plan is in place can thwart an attack before it starts,” Tyco says. “It can quell the fear for uneasy students and parents. By bringing the community into the security plan, it can increase confidence and peace of mind.”

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