Threats and challenges in K–12 visitor management

Threats and challenges in K–12 visitor management
As schools seek to prioritize security and operational efficiency, visitor management solutions are rising in popularity 

According to Research and Markets, the visitor management market is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 15 percent from 2017 to 2025, driven by stricter government regulation and an increased desire for paperless operations management.

Educational institutions are a significant market segment. K–12 schools in particular have shown a marked interest in the wake of several high-profile incidents, including a mass shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 people dead.

What are the major concerns in K–12 schools now?

According to Educator’s School Safety Network (ESSN), a nonprofit organization for school safety, in the 2017–2018 school year more than 3,659 threats and incidents of violence occurred in K–12 schools in the U.S. While this number itself is concerning, what’s even more worrisome is that it’s more than the previous year. There was a 62 percent increase in the threats recorded in 2017–2018 compared to 2016–2018. If this wasn’t alarming enough, the number of actual security incidents has gone up 113 percent over the same period.

Reports suggest shooting incidents are one of the major security issues that K–12 schools are struggling to deal with. 2018 was the deadliest year on record for school shootings in the U.S, according to statistics from the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS). 

“Concurrent with these troubling findings, school administrators and law enforcement officials find themselves in the untenable position of having to make critical decisions about the validity of threats with little to no threat assessment protocols, few established best practices, outdated procedures, and typically, a complete lack of education-based school safety training,” ESSN noted. “In the wake of the Parkland shooting, gun-related issues and law enforcement solutions have become the central focus to the exclusion of a comprehensive, all-hazards approach to both violence prevention and response.”

Other concerns that schools need to deal with

Beyond issues like active shooters, there are other concerns that schools have to deal with even more frequently. According to Kevin Allen, President LobbyGuard Solutions, a common issue that schools have to deal with is knowing who is authorized to collect a student in cases where there is a custody dispute.

Some industry professionals are of the opinion that the fear of gun violence has overshadowed other, more common concerns in schools that should be dealt with strictly. These include sexual assault, cyberbullying and social isolation. There are also issues like fire, natural disasters and, in the context of visitor management, intruders.

Challenges in managing visitors

Identifying and verifying people who enter a location is key to visitor management in K–12 schools. The challenge here is to know who should be allowed in, especially when there are cases where the people who have custody of a child changes frequently.

“Children represent a particularly vulnerable population since their ability to communicate information about family situations is limited, and situations can change quickly,” said Denis Petrov, CEO of IDScan.net.  “Schools need to know who is allowed inside at any given point in time, and moreover, they must have a way to collect this information and distribute it to school staff in real time.”

Petrov added that if a school has a strong security presence at the entrance but no way to identify who is entering, they may allow the wrong person into the school. For example, someone who was authorized to pick up the child one day may be prohibited the next. The challenge is collecting the right information and the sharing it in real time.
 


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