Schools have become a criminal target for high profile mass casualty incidents. They’re also vulnerable to physical assaults, property damage, and theft. While schools have a wide range of internal and external security concerns, four key locations are critical, regardless of the threat, size or type of school, or age of the students.
1 – The Main Entrance
The main entrance usually has glass panels, and in most cases, multiple doors for students, teachers, and visitors to enter and exit freely at peak times. This area is extremely vulnerable when free passage is allowed. When the flow is limited, most schools electronically lock these doors to prevent free-flow into the school.
A vestibule creates an area between two sets of doors where a visitor can escape the weather to present identification. With a vestibule, multiple technologies can limit the risk of unauthorized entry. A voice intercom system allows the visitor to push a button and notify school staff that someone desires to enter. Once a voice communication session is created, video surveillance from a remote office allows staff to observe the visitor and verify identity with a driver’s license or other credential.
2 – The Hallway
While hallways are packed with students between classes, they’re largely empty during class. Large congregation areas should be monitored by video surveillance and have panic alarm devices conveniently located. With a panic alarm device, a student or staff member can initiate a series of automated technology reactions. A calm, pre-recorded message provides initial instructions to occupants so that students and staff in other parts of the building and campus can determine if they need to evacuate or shelter in place. School security and administrators receive immediate text alerts notifying them of the exact location of the initial alarm. Responding authorities will begin to gather critical intelligence via text message or central monitoring station notifications.
3 – The Classroom
During a safety alert, classrooms near the initial alarm location can be locked down automatically, allowing open egress if it’s safe to exit, but preventing ingress. Classrooms further from the initial alert are advised to evaluate or perform other emergency measures based on institutional guidelines and training programs.
4 – The Cafeteria
The cafeteria can be the site of a large initial threat. Students and staff must be able to initiate a series of automated alerts and notifications. Video surveillance in this type of area is different than a hallway. Hallways can be viewed by a single camera in a single direction for a long distance. Cafeterias, however, may be better served by panoramic cameras that have a 360-degree view.
Regardless of the location, it may not be possible to rely on a person in duress to activate a panic button. In these cases, a fully automated system is required.
Consider a tiered automated response system that consists of the most reliable gunshot detection system, standardized door locking hardware that intelligently manages interior movement and accessibility, and integration to a mass notification system that provides directed instructions to school occupants and responding authorities.
Door control can be achieved with an integrated access control platform. The system operates under normal conditions to allow entry into specific areas of the school by authorized students and teachers. This system maintains a standard level of security during normal classroom hours.
A targeted monitoring system such as the Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection System, by Shooter Detection Systems, immediately detects a shooting event within the building. Upon detection, a digital signal is automatically sent to access control and other integrated systems.
Employing an emergency mass notification and crisis communication system to trigger automatically through system integration can deliver potentially life-saving audio notifications quickly and clearly to all students and building occupants via desktop computers, public address speakers, digital message boards, mobile devices, and the building fire alarm system.
There’s not a one-size-fits-all technology solution that will render all schools 100% safe. However, engaging an experienced security organization can be a great advantage. A security professional can visit your school and work with administrators and security staff to devise a tailored, comprehensive solution.
In the event of an active assailant situation, the unified systems will react immediately, notifying students and staff that an emergency is unfolding. Emergency responders will be alerted immediately, saving valuable time. Staff, students, and visitors will be clearly informed and can react according to their preparation and training. Assailant movement within the building will be limited, allowing people in other parts of the building to escape through open doors. As responders arrive, they can quickly locate the assailant and stop the situation.
Securitronics is uniquely positioned to support security solutions of all sizes. From schools to banking and manufacturing, our team has the experience to ensure a successful deployment. Securitronics is solution-driven, and known for selecting the right technology and integrated security systems design for every vertical market. Solutions include video surveillance, access control, intercom, communications, and intrusion detection systems.