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INSIGHTS

Integrative approaches for optimized school emergency response

Integrative approaches for optimized school emergency response
The adoption of strong physical security measures is crucial at a time when security threats are becoming more commonplace.
The adoption of strong physical security measures is crucial at a time when security threats are becoming more commonplace, especially in sensitive settings like educational institutions. In order to ensure the safety and security of people inside these settings, these technologies must be integrated with emergency response procedures.
 
This article delves into the insights provided by two experts in the field, Darren Chalmers-Stevens, the Group Chief Operating Officer at CriticalArc SafeZone, and David Rogers, the CMO of Raptor Technologies, who share their perspectives on the best practices that physical security systems integrators can implement to optimize emergency response systems.

Understanding force multiplier opportunities

The concept of ‘force multiplier’ opportunities is pivotal in the realm of security systems integration. Stevens explained that these opportunities arise from the integration of multi-function management platforms, which can significantly enhance the value and capability delivered to customers. These platforms allow for a departure from traditional solutions, enabling institutions to adopt technologies that are more aligned with contemporary needs.
 
For instance, Stevens cited the example of SafeZone, a mobile emergency call solution, as a more effective and flexible alternative to fixed ‘blue phone’ emergency help points.

“Budgets that were previously spent on fixed ‘blue phone’ emergency help points can be much more effectively invested in flexible, mobile emergency call solutions, such as SafeZone, that are less costly to implement and maintain,” Stevens said. “SafeZone is not only more effective in emergency situations, but it also combines multiple functions under one management platform (mass communications, response team coordination, duress alarm, etc.) and can save significant sums compared to siloed systems. Those savings can be better invested in other security infrastructure.”

Leveraging new technologies

The integration of new technologies is instrumental in achieving optimal emergency response. Stevens emphasized the importance of consolidating multiple functions under one management platform. Solutions like SafeZone are not only more effective in emergency situations but also combine functions such as mass communications, response team coordination, and duress alarms, saving significant sums compared to siloed systems.
 
“Understanding these developments allows systems integrators to show their customers how new value can be leveraged from all those other systems that they supply, including alarms, perimeter systems, access control, and video surveillance,” Stevens added. “Integrators need to be talking to their customers in big picture terms, as well as looking at the benefits and practicalities of individual systems.”

Customization and assessment

Rogers stressed the importance of a meticulous and tailored approach to security needs, suggesting that physical security systems integrators should commence with a comprehensive assessment of a school’s specific security needs. This involves identifying key systems that can integrate seamlessly with emergency notification solutions to implement and respond effectively to specific emergencies.
 
“In my opinion, to optimize emergency response systems, physical security systems integrators should begin with a thorough assessment of the school’s specific security needs and what key systems can integrate with emergency notification solutions to both implement and respond to specific emergencies,” Rogers said.
 
 For instance, leveraging weapons detection to launch a lockdown, which in turn activates the PA and strobes in a building.
 
“Also, customization is key, tailoring the emergency response system to match a school’s unique requirements (and emergency types) with a focus on scalability to accommodate future growth and evolving security needs,” Rogers added. “Redundancy in critical components is essential to minimize downtime in case of system failures, while comprehensive user training ensures proficient operation during emergencies.”

Redundancy and user training

Redundancy in critical components and comprehensive user training is yet another critical factor consider. Rogers pointed out that that these elements are crucial to minimize downtime in case of system failures and to ensure proficient operation during emergencies. Routine system evaluations and coordinated emergency drills with staff should be instituted to detect and address vulnerabilities, thereby fostering reflexive response patterns for staff and first responders in handling various emergency situations.
 
“Regular testing of systems (including 911 integrations), combined with emergency drills with staff, should be established to identify and rectify weaknesses, with a strong emphasis on creating the muscle memory for staff and first responders on how to respond to different types of emergencies,” Rogers said. “Compliance with relevant regulations is a must, and user-friendly interfaces simplify system operation, reducing the risk of errors during high-stress situations.”

Conclusion

The insights provided by Stevens and Rogers offer a comprehensive guide to best practices in physical security systems integration. The exploration of ‘force multiplier’ opportunities, the leveraging of new technologies, and the emphasis on customization, redundancy, user training, compliance, and user-friendly interfaces are pivotal in taking maximum advantage of emergency response systems.
 
The integration of these practices is not just about fortifying security but also about delivering better value to customers, understanding developments in security technology, and leveraging new value from integrated systems. It is about creating a secure environment where the practicalities of individual systems are as crucial as the big picture, ensuring that institutions are well-equipped to respond effectively and efficiently to any security threat that may arise.
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