Page 82 - Security Today, September/October 2021
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ble threats and can immediately initiate the appropriate response plan. The live feed would be sent to first responders, such as law enforce- ment, a school resource officer or a principal, in order to launch a quick response. With today’s smarter networks and devices, plus an automated alerting platform to tie them all together, it is easier and more cost-effective than ever to create a safety and security bubble
over a single campus or entire district.
Monitoring Access Points
One way a school can integrate technology for optimal safety and secu- rity is by auditing their entry points. While schools vary in their entry practices from having a manual sign in at the front desk to keycard entry, the doorway is the first point of access to each building. Entry access control systems are essential for optimum security. The ideal security system allows a person from anywhere in the building to both see and communicate with visitors before entering the building. This gives staff as much information as possible to make an informed deci- sion about which visitors should be allowed to access the building.
Rather than having an employee assigned to wait by the doors and monitor entry, administrators can deploy automated alerting to allow staff members to receive an alert on their phone containing detailed information about any individual requesting building access; the alert can even contain live video footage pulled from security cameras. The employee can then permit access directly from their phone with the push of a button or secure the building in the case of a threat.
Adding an extra level of security with credential tracking and per- missions, including key cards and pin codes, can be implemented throughout the building as an added layer of caution. Lastly, inte- grated cameras and building access sensors can allow access points to be monitored with a notification should the building be breached with a propped door to eliminate a threat early. Identifying areas of improvement at access points is a great first step to establishing a comprehensive plan.
Alerting the Right People at the Right Time
In the case of an active shooter inside the building, situational aware- ness technology notifies the right people, with the right information, in the shortest amount of time. From notifying law enforcement to employees and loved ones, technology can play a vital role in making sure everyone is aware of the situation to respond quickly.
This cuts down on people wondering what to do if they see some- thing suspicious, or are in shock amid an emergency. Instead, a pro- tocol is put in place, and executed for the use of a panic button to alert people of the situation immediately. Technology can make all staff feel empowered to act quickly and efficiently to deescalate an emer- gency situation, ensuring that every second is being optimally uti- lized and that emergency staff are alerted in real-time.
Technology has become vital in the safety and security of schools, businesses, and other public places because it provides peace of mind. For instance, Blount County School District, just one county over from the recent Knoxville, TN, school shooting, implemented tech- nology solutions to better equip them to respond to an active shooter situation a year ago. Their use of situational awareness and response technology integrated all safety and security technology into one platform and enhanced their mobile duress technologies throughout
the school buildings.
Specific school staff members were given mobile duress buttons to be
used in the event of an emergency. When one of the mobile duress but- tons is triggered, an alert is immediately sent out to the proper staff and/ or first responders with critical information. This goes out, via desktop alerts and includes a live video feed from the cameras closest to the trig- gered device and the location of the device triggered. This ensures quick
and correct action would be taken to manage any situation.
The school believes this proactive approach will ultimately save lives in the case of an emergency. Each school had a different set of needs and requirements for its program. In a mass shooting situation, one minute can be the difference between life and death. While it can be overwhelming for schools to take on such a challenging and com- plex issue, starting with an evaluation, and identifying key areas of opportunity/improvement, and incorporating a comprehensive safety plan, schools can take steps necessary towards a brighter and safer
future for our children, students and staff.
Making Your School Situationally Aware
Situational awareness technology is used for other mass notification updates to parents and faculty such as school closures, COVID-19 exposures, or new guidelines. An automated alerting platform can streamline lockdowns, evacuations, severe weather responses, medi- cal emergencies, and many typical day-to-day events. By implement- ing an automated platform, schools are not only preparing for active shooter situations but also preparing for the future.
By maintaining the safety conditions and security of their school buildings, administrators can ensure that when the time comes for students to return, they are more ready than ever. Running a school is already a demanding job, and with COVID-19 and an increase in gun violence adding even more pressure and complications, it is easy to let things be swept under the rug, resulting in a minor issue becom- ing a major problem. To minimize risk, it’s worth investing in a solu- tion that can catch an issue before it escalates, relieving staff from doing unnecessary work and allowing them to focus on what’s really important - teaching their students.
Navigating Increasing Violence in Schools
While several factors have led to school shootings, mental health is one that cannot be ignored. According to a recent report, staff mem- bers need to be able to identify students who may exhibit or be a victim of violence by examining and analyzing patterns and trends in their behaviors. A number of factors should be considered including attendance records, student grades, previous history or pattern of behavioral issues, and experience with bullying.
Having multiple touchpoints with students each day visible on one platform allows staff to view all interactions in one place to help iden- tify trends or issues. For example, if a student is consistently absent from lunch on a certain day of the week, administrators may be able to identify that the student is facing food insecurity, or being bullied by another student during the lunch hour. Consolidating information onto a single platform not only improves efficiency, but also has the potential to spot issues that could escalate into situations that are more violent if not addressed properly.
Upgrading technology to protect students does not always have to be out of budget for schools. Many states, including Ohio and Kentucky are allocating funds and offering grants to schools to incorporate tech- nology solutions. The technology allows schools to improve safety and communication by providing staff the ability to summon help from any web browser, which allows law enforcement to be notified quickly and discreetly, and to send and receive alerts via various devices.
Increasing public awareness of safety and security concerns and preparing for the worst can save lives in emergency situations. When the right people can receive detailed information about what is hap- pening around them, they can react immediately and effectively. Situ- ational awareness technology creates time to respond and that is critical for life safety as well as optimizing operations.
Danielle Myers is the general manager at Status Solutions.
Shooting Response

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