School Security From A to Z

A: Access Control – A high-end access control system can give a school or university control over the movement of employees, students and visitors while also tying into video and fire monitoring. Users are allowed only into authorized areas, while the system monitors the campus 24 hours a day.

B: Badges – National School Safety and Security Services says that every school should implement its own identification system. One way is to require that each student, employee and visitor wear an ID badge. Visitor badges can be color-coded and set to change color each day to prevent a past visitor from creeping up on campus with an expired pass.

C: Cell Phone Notification System – Some 90 percent of college students have cell phones, and programs are now available to notify parents, students, faculty and staff of emergencies by sending time-sensitive messages to cell phones wherever they are. Notifications can be set to deliver descriptive information to students. Unlike a siren, which alerts but does not explain, this method can identify the purpose of an announcement. Messages can inform students of emergency broadcasts, terrorist alerts, weather advisories and more.

D: DVR System – When monitoring a campus, dormitory, building or classroom, using a digital video recorder (DVR) system can save time and effort in the aftermath of an incident. DVRs can also be linked into corporate networks. These systems will record, store and play back images from numerous cameras. The systems can also be programmed to record based on video motion detection.

E: Explosive Detection – Explosive material can enter schools through many outlets: mail, backpacks, lockers, etc. Bomb-sniffing dogs and peroxide explosive testers can inspect suspicious bags and unidentified objects. Intrusion through the mail by a bomb or an anthrax attack, for example, can be prevented by educating the school staff about what to be wary of when opening mail and by limiting the number of students who open school mail. If there is a suspicious package present, schools can take advantage of a mail scanner, which examines small envelopes and packages for explosives and other suspect items.

F: Fire Suppression System – A reliable and easily accessible fire suppression system is especially important for small, enclosed areas that may contain people or electronic equipment. A portable extinguisher is a critical line of defense in the event of a fire, and helpful labels, describing content and operation, can
save time.

G: Guarding Windows – An easy security solution to install in dorms and classrooms is a window guard. This product is a portable security device that can guard a point-of-entry by being placed above it. The device will sense an intrusion, for example, when glass is broken or when vibrations or changes in air pressure occur. It generates a high-decibel alarm upon an incident. Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, offers training on window and door alarms as part of its intrusion detection guidelines.

H: Hacking Assessment – Is it possible for a student or an intruder to hack into a school computer system? Not if there are Intrusion Detection and Prevention (IDP) solutions. These systems monitor what is considered normal activity and stop anything deemed out of the ordinary. Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) can also be used, which scan individual packets of information for viruses, worms and other potential threats.

I: IP-Ready Camera – Using IP-enabled cameras allows users to access live video feeds from anywhere with Internet access. For example, a teacher could monitor class activity from outside the classroom. On a big campus, a security official could see exactly which section of a building an attacker is located in from his computer.

J: Joystick – Video surveillance systems sometimes include a controller keypad with a joystick. It gives the user customized remote control of a pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) camera. In a school setting, the joystick can operate a single motorized camera in one building or control a campus-wide network of multi-camera classrooms.

K: Keyless Locks – The use of biometrics and keyless locks for access control on school campuses may keep out classroom and dorm intruders. Keyless locks range from fingerprint locks to PIN-code only locks. Limiting the use of key locks on a campus tightens security and deters key theft, copying and loss. A fingerprint lock may be better suited for dorms because of the higher security afforded by a biometric fingerprint and because there are fewer users. A PIN-code access-only lock usually holds more user codes and is better for bigger groups of users, such as public school buildings.

L: Lock Controller – Doors across campuses can be simultaneously locked using a Wi-Fi lock controller. Using a wireless or Ethernet connection, an operator can control a door’s lock in real-time during an emergency situation. By cutting out the middleman, locking doors automatically controls access to hundreds of doors instantaneously to put students out of harm’s way.

M: Mesh Network – Mesh networking is a way to route data, voice and instructions among nodes of a network; for example, video data among the various cameras networked into a wireless system. The network allows for continuous connections and reconfiguration around broken or blocked paths (such as a blocked signal transmission path) by “hopping” to other nodes on the network until the destination (control center) is reached. A mesh network in a video surveillance system allows cameras placed at various locations to work with each other to provide video and information to first responders in their patrol unit vehicles. Using the mesh network, first responders can arrive at the scene of an ongoing incident, instantly access the network and view what is going on inside of the school.

N: Night-Vision Camera – A night-vision performance camera system allows security personnel to monitor activity at their schools at a critical time after hours. When combined with an infrared-sensitive camera, night-vision systems can also provide perimeter surveillance for any size school or campus during any type of weather.

O: Onsite Guard Booth – Many guard booth companies offer customizable booths suitable for campus grounds. They offer features such as bullet-resistance. Perimeter security is vital to a campus, whether the guard booths are placed around parking lots or buildings. A booth with a security guard working inside, fully aware of his or her surroundings, is an extra step toward preventing campus attacks.

P: Planning and Response Software
– Crisis management planning and response software enables police, fire and other emergency responders to instantly access tactical and floor plans, interior and exterior photos, staging areas, hazardous materials and evacuation routes at specific facilities. It’s another way to give first responders critical information when they arrive on the scene of any school security incident.

Q: Quick Alert – A panic button worn by a person can be activated quietly and safely. Through the use of radio waves, the button can alert authorities to an emergency in a designated location. A good option for students at schools that do not allow cell phones, a panic button with one-button operation takes away the daunting task of learning new technology. Panic buttons can also be placed under a desk for hidden security.

R: Remote Monitoring Services – Using remote monitoring software in school settings may be useful to prevent future attacks. Remote Monitoring (RMON) is a standard monitoring tool that provides network administrators with more freedom in selecting network-monitoring consoles with features that meet their particular needs. Alarms generated by CCTV motion detection can be recorded, confirmed and responded to by operators at a Remote Video Response Center as events are happening. They can then interpret the behavior of the subject that has triggered the alarm from the sight of the camera and take any necessary action.

S: Secure Wi-Fi Area – Many high school and college campuses have wireless networks in lunchrooms, dorms and classrooms. This leaves a prime opening for data leakage and identity theft, and it clears the way for potential viruses. Schools often do as much as they can to secure Wi-Fi areas, but students can take control themselves by protecting their own computers. When using a public Wi-Fi, using a firewall can hide files. Students should also check the privacy statement on their network’s Web site to learn about the type of encryption used and turn off the wireless network when it’s not in use.

T: Transportation Surveillance and Communication – K-12 student bus drivers see students at the beginning and end of each school day, and it is important that they are fully aware of how to protect them. To do this, schools might consider installing a surveillance camera and DVR or a two-way radio aboard the bus. A radio can act as a versatile, portable public safety device for critical situations and can be used to contact others in the school when an incident occurs. Cameras and DVRs can record incidents for later review.

U: User-Activated Security – Students at large campuses now have an option to put a “guardian angel” on their shoulder by programming their cell phones to activate panic alerts when they feel necessary. If a student is walking back from the library alone late at night, he or she can enable a timer that lets campus security know that it has been set. If the alert is not deactivated by the time the user has given, campus police are notified and can track the student’s whereabouts using a global-positioning device. The alert can also act as a panic button, enabling students to quietly hit a button during a crisis such as a hostage situation.

V: Visitor Management – At schools where each visitor needs to be logged, the facility can implement a high-tech way to register visitors. Schools can set up a kiosk to scan a driver’s license instantly to check visitors against national and state sex offender registries and other criminal databases. Within seconds, the kiosk runs a background check and prints a photo ID badge with a self-expiring barcode. If it recognizes anyone from the database, it will notify appropriate school and district personnel via text message alerts.

W: Walk-Through Metal Detector – A portable walk-through metal detector is an option for metal detection at schools. Some offer features such as battery-operation and durability, which allows for easy transfer around school grounds. The ability to be assembled and disassembled in minutes also makes for an effective way for schools to implement metal detection on certain days.

X: X-Ray Detection – Each day, as teachers and students bring in backpacks, purses and briefcases, the opportunity to conceal a weapon arises. An X-ray system placed at a school entryway can detect them before they cause an issue. The X-ray machines on the market are portable and compact, designed for narrow halls and spaces and are able to fit through doorways. With screens that display bright, digital colored images, a trained staff member or professional can handle the job. A conveyor belt system allows lines to move quickly and limits holdup and traffic in hallways.

Y: Yearly Security Enhancement – Dr. Paul M. Viollis, president of Risk Control Strategies, a consulting firm for security solutions in corporations including academic institutions, says it’s necessary for each campus or school to lobby for dedicated funds in order to meet the Department of Education’s standards. These standards may include campus accessibility, staff background investigations and building vulnerability assessment.

Z: Zone Paging and Mass Notification Towers – Mass notification is a fast and easy way to notify a large school or campus. A broadcast tower can integrate a campus emergency/information phone with its wide-area broadcast capabilities, creating a single emergency communication system. Schools can implement a tower that provides 360-degree coverage for both locally and remotely transmitted broadcasts.

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