Schools Explore Innovative Security Enhancements Ahead of the New School Year

Threats to student safety have schools interested in integrating surveillance and network-security solutions.

The way that school leaders must think about the security and safety of their students has taken a dramatic turn as the reality of school shootings continues to rock the lives of parents, students, teachers and administrators.

School spending on security measures has increased nationwide, creating a $2.7 billion industry that is expected to continue growing through at least 2021, Marketplace reports.

With this increased investment, technology vendors are developing leading-edge security technology, which includes everything from security cameras and alarms to new biometric systems like fingerprint scanning and facial recognition.

While this is laudable from a safety standpoint, schools integrating these tools must ensure that their IT infrastructure is strong enough to support the implementation of these technologies successfully. 

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Couple Classroom Security with the Cloud

Leaders in K–12 schools are already looking to cloud technology to offer better access to information and resources for an increased number of classroom and personal learning devices, but integrating the cloud can also have considerable security benefits.

Security sensors and alarms connected to an Internet of Things setup can increase IT efficiency, increase safety by alerting students in real time and give students and parents peace of mind, according to a study by Dell EMC on use of their security systems in higher education institutions.

Similar benefits can translate to K–12 schools, as IoT security systems like Dell EMC’s Edge Gateway, which is integrated into its VM5 System, uses solutions common in K–12 schools such as video cameras and gunshot detectors to recognize threats. Utilizing IoT, users on the network are then notified immediately, cutting down on response time.

At the Reading School District in southeastern Pennsylvania, administrators looking to change their security system integrated Cisco Meraki MV security cameras into their new Meraki MX450 cloud-managed security device, allowing for simple, clear access to camera feeds from anywhere in the school. 

“We now have significantly better video quality and much better coverage,” Network and Systems Administrator CR Hiestand said in a Cisco case study. “We are moving from something where we could say, ‘Yes there are people moving in that area doing something’ to saying, ‘I know exactly who that student is and I know exactly what they are doing.’ That is huge.”

Integrate New Automated Systems into Current Networks

In North Carolina, Phoenix Academy administrators installed automated gunshot-detection devices, the Center for Digital Education reports.

The system uses a network of audio sensors and an uploaded blueprint of the school to detect and pinpoint threats and send out alerts to users on the network, all while integrating seamlessly into the current IP network.

“[Security is] one of those things where you can never do anything that’s foolproof, but you want to make sure you’ve put in everything you possibly can, that you’ve done everything you can do,” Superintendent Kim Norcross told the Center for Digital Education. “If this were to help with response time in a critical event, that’s everything we can do.”

According to Campus Safety, IT teams can avoid a lot of headaches by converging building automation systems (BAS) and physical security systems.

Blending these two systems combines control of both onto one dashboard — and allows IT departments to slowly absorb the responsibilities of both without adding too much additional work.

“With all its benefits, it’s easy to see why building automation is the way of the future, and it can be customized to meet clients’ specific needs, allowing efficient running of a business and property,” Campus Safety reports. “Building owners, facility managers, security directors and IT professionals see the value of converging potentially dozens of systems onto one network with a single control point. Security integrators and their customers both stand to capitalize.”

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Aug 07 2018