A key opportunity for security technology in primary/secondary schools is creating more automated systems that lessen or eliminate human delay in response and notification
Beyond the need to install new systems, often overlooked is how schools are going to pay for security upgrades

Limited financial resources are a common pain point for K-12 schools looking to implement cutting-edge security technology. But security needs persist despite scarce resources.

All school administrators want to do everything in their power to secure their facilities against threats. More schools are recognizing the benefits and, in some cases, requirement of upgrading systems to meet evolving threats. The solution is to find creative, cost-effective ways to support these installations.

Aiming Maximum Security Amidst Fund Scarcity

Schools need maximum security and yet they have to work with limited budgets, says Andrew Schonzeit, CEO of integrator Idesco. “There certainly is a demand to enhance school safety, but to do so, schools have to look at the bigger picture and think in terms of solutions,” he adds. Integrators like Idesco can help by providing integrated security solutions that cover all their needs from ID cards to access systems and security cameras. “Many schools might think that they cannot afford such a solution, but with the latest technologies, they certainly can,” Schonzeit says. “I believe technology is being underutilised in K-12 schools because many schools feel intimidated by solutions. I think the security industry has come a very long way in development of apps for smart phones and iPad devices that are essentially one or two clicks. It is up to security integrators to provide powerful tools that customers feel very comfortable to use.”

Choosing The Right Technology

Schools should also try to maximise the use of mobile devices to control access to their premises and to intervene quickly in case of an emergency
IP access control brings costs down by eliminating panels, excess wiring, and third party electricity at each door

The Department of Homeland Security makes grants and funds available to schools for security upgrades and to address school vulnerabilities, Schonzeit says. The K-12 market should be taking advantage more of the technology that is available right now. Schools are starting to have a very strong network infrastructure backbone, which is a resource schools should be looking at to assist them in terms of implementing a solution. Schools should also try to maximize the use of mobile devices to control access to their premises and to intervene quickly in case of an emergency, Schonzeit says.

One way to use the network backbone is by adding IP access control, which brings costs down by eliminating panels, excess wiring, and third party electricity at each door. This means that more doors, in existing buildings, can be protected on a tight budget. Isonas, a provider of IP access control, has very close integration with both Video Insight and Milestone video management systems. Isonas feeds access control data to each of these video platforms, allowing them to be the command/control for both access control and video. “As budgets are tight, few districts can afford to put access control across an entire district at one time,” says Rob Mossman, CEO of Isonas. “The integration and the Pure IP structure means that a district can roll in access control school by school without having to manage two separate software packages during the expansion.”

Beyond the need to install new systems, often overlooked is how schools are going to pay for security upgrades. At times, it is a matter of school boards making the tough choice to place a higher priority on security measures than other worthwhile programs competing for funding, says John Mosebar, vice president, marketing, Aiphone Corp., a manufacturer of audio and video intercoms.

"I believe technology is being underutilised in K-12 schools because many schools feel intimidated by solutions. I think the security industry has come a very long way in development of apps for smart phones and iPad devices that are essentially one or two clicks"

Recognizing Government Grants

Also, the federal government, most states, and private organizations offer many grants to pay for some portion of school security, Mosebar says. But often these grants are not well publicised, making it difficult especially for smaller districts without dedicated grant personnel to apply. This is an area where the security industry – through one of its organizations – could step up to research the various grant offerings and make them available through one website. “It would be a tremendous public service,” says Mosebar.

Prioritizing Security Requirements

Partially in response to cost challenges, implementing electronic access control in phases is more common in schools than other environments. Schools and districts decide the most critical openings from a security and traffic flow perspective, and prioritize them first, according to Allegion. Priority lists vary among schools, but most start with the perimeter so they can lock down a facility and keep intruders out.

Some schools look at crime statistics and prioritize schools by location, starting first with those in the highest crime areas, adds Minu Youngkin, Allegion vertical marketing manager. Others look at traffic flow and determine which openings are most problematic, or put them at the greatest risk, and add access control to those first, says Youngkin.

Greater system functionality is another aspect of costs. A key opportunity for security technology in K-12 schools is creating more automated systems that lessen or eliminate human delay in response and notification, says Bruce Montgomery, Business Development Manager, Honeywell. Creating an automated “If this, then what?” protocol streamlines a school’s approach to violence and improves response time. A one-button approach – where only one action is required to notify teachers, students and police, trigger a lockdown and provide video surveillance and campus access to law enforcement – is ideal for managing the broad range of communication and logistical challenges in the event of an emergency.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

Author profile

Larry Anderson Editor, SecurityInformed.com & SourceSecurity.com

An experienced journalist and long-time presence in the US security industry, Larry is SecurityInformed.com's eyes and ears in the fast-changing security marketplace, attending industry and corporate events, interviewing security leaders and contributing original editorial content to the site. He leads SecurityInformed's team of dedicated editorial and content professionals, guiding the "editorial roadmap" to ensure the site provides the most relevant content for security professionals.

In case you missed it

What Is The Impact Of Remote Working On Security?
What Is The Impact Of Remote Working On Security?

During the coronavirus lockdown, employees worked from home in record numbers. But the growing trend came with a new set of security challenges. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What is the impact of the transition to remote working/home offices on the security market?

The Future Of Accommodation: When Coliving And PropTech Combine
The Future Of Accommodation: When Coliving And PropTech Combine

As technology develops at an ever-faster rate, the possibilities for where and how new innovations can be used are endless. The property sector is one such area where new technology, such as smarter video surveillance, is being used to improve the quality of life for families and communities by increasing security as well as implementing changes based on new insights. Specifically for the coliving movement, cloud-based video surveillance is helping operators to improve the communal spaces for their tenants in ways that on-premises surveillance never could. From tighter security measures to better social spaces, here’s how coliving is benefitting from the PropTech (property technology) boom. What is coliving? The coliving movement is the latest iteration of a recurring human trend. The act of communally sharing space and resources while benefiting from a supportive community is something we’ve seen time and again throughout history. A place that everyone can call home addresses multiple needs. With the concept of shared spaces, and the possibility to work and socialize together, it’s no longer simply a trend. Specifically for the coliving movement, cloud-based video surveillance is helping operators to improve the communal spaces for their tenants in ways that on-premises surveillance never could. As living expenses become ever higher, for many – particularly younger – people getting on the property ladder is difficult, and renting an apartment alone can feel isolating. Coliving spaces offer a ready-built community, and many responsibilities – like maintenance, for example – lie with the building owners, and the cost is included. Where does PropTech come in? PropTech is dramatically changing the way people research, rent, buy, sell and manage property. The combination of the internet, huge compute power, cloud platforms and artificial intelligence (AI) have all combined to create technologies that are transforming the way the entire property sector works. Whether that’s helping buildings to operate more efficiently or even become more sustainable, PropTech is a sector that’s on the rise. When it comes to coliving, PropTech is helping to make these environments safer and smarter for the people who live there. One of the fundamental areas of building design is people’s safety. Following the past year where health has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds, PropTech is enabling entrance systems with touchless doorways and innovative ventilation systems, for example. And even without taking the pandemic into consideration, people living in shared spaces need to be confident that the security is well-managed, and the management wants to ensure that only tenants and their guests can enter the premises. How cloud video surveillance drives better coliving Once seen as an ‘add-on’ to building design, video surveillance and access control are now becoming increasingly important elements of the PropTech movement, and they are equally as desirable for coliving too. Surveillance cameras are essentially sensors that can monitor activity, patterns, and any other changes in a given environment. Analysis of video data can occur in real-time to effect changes immediately, or video can be stored and evaluated at a later date. In a co-living environment, a cloud-based video surveillance system can help operators to understand how tenants use their space, and implement changes to benefit them. Traditionally, video surveillance data stored on-premises had limited uses, as it was often only accessed after a security incident, such as a break-in. The video therefore wouldn’t be used frequently and the camera and storage system would just be another cost not yielding any ROI. Cloud technology has had a dramatic impact on video surveillance. Remote management delivers the ability to modify, adjust and perfect the system without needing to be present at the site, while remote monitoring alerts operators to any unusual incidents such as an equipment malfunction or breakage. In a co-living environment, a cloud-based video surveillance system can help operators to understand how tenants use their space, and implement changes to benefit them. For example, surveillance can show operators which areas in the communal spaces are frequented the most and at what times, including areas such as the laundry room or gym where space might be limited. By using AI to analyze the video, operators can use insights from it to improve the existing set up wherever possible, and also learn lessons about how to better design future coliving spaces. In today’s world, this technology can also help to keep everyone safe and healthy. Cameras can identify if someone is wearing a face mask as they go to enter a building and deny entry until they put one on. Thermal cameras are another easy tool to screen people for an elevated temperature before they even enter a communal space. Though a raised temperature does not mean you have COVID-19, the technology can provide an initial screening, so that individuals with elevated temperature readings can be checked manually for other symptoms or possibly be recommended for a test. The future of smart living Coliving is not a new phenomenon – humans have been living in communal places for many years, working and socializing together for the benefit of everyone. What makes today’s coliving movement unique is the range of rapidly developing technology that is being implemented to improve the environments for tenants. As an arguably lower cost and higher quality way of life, coliving spaces are certainly here to stay, and so the PropTech surge is no doubt going to grow with it.

How Have Security Solutions Failed Our Schools?
How Have Security Solutions Failed Our Schools?

School shootings are a high-profile reminder of the need for the highest levels of security at our schools and education facilities. Increasingly, a remedy to boost the security at schools is to use more technology. However, no technology is a panacea, and ongoing violence and other threats at our schools suggest some level of failure. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How have security solutions failed our schools and what is the solution?