As we approach National Safe Schools Week (October 21-27), it is appropriate for a conversation to begin regarding establishing standards for K12 school security. Currently no standards exist for assisting schools navigate the complexity of understanding what they need, how much it will cost and how they will secure their learning environments.

Security Industry Experts

The Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS) is one of the organizations at the forefront of establishing security standards for schools. In 2014, the Security Industry Association (SIA) and the National Systems Contractors Association (NSCA) formed PASS, which brought together a cross functional group of members including school officials, safe schools’ consultants, law enforcement and security industry experts to collaborate and develop a coordinated approach to protecting K-12 students and staff.

School administrators are often contacted repeatedly by organizations with multiple safety and security products

PASS has provided valuable insights regarding an ‘All Hazards’ approach to school safety and security. In fact, PASS suggests that school administrators are challenged with two decisions:

  • Determining what they need to do
  • How to prioritize

Safe School Environment

School administrators are experts in running schools and providing education. However, most are not security experts and do not understand the complexity of implementing a comprehensive physical security and safety program across their districts. Still, they are often contacted repeatedly by organizations with multiple safety and security products.

The Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS) is one of the organizations at the forefront of
School administrators are experts in running schools and providing education, but most are not security experts 

Some of these organizations recognize their products are just pieces of a safe school environment puzzle and how they fit in, whereas others focus on specific applications and do not understand how their specific solutions may affect life safety codes and Americans with Disabilities Act law. (Note: Many ‘barricade devices’ fall into this latter category and actually introduce liability concerns with the unintended consequences of their use.)Schools incorporate evacuation drills as part of their emergency preparedness plans and practice on a regular basis

Even for experts, the plethora of options and disparate systems required to integrate a safety and security approach at schools is daunting. The ongoing challenge is integrating access control, video, mass notification, and/or visitor management products into a single, effective, and appropriate system the owner can understand, utilize, and afford and that meet local codes and ADA laws. In the absence of standards, schools are likely to amass a collection of devices that do not constitute a comprehensive solution.

Lack Of Consensus

In years past, the our industry and commercial buildings adhered to legacy codes – like Building Officials and Code Administrators International Inc. (BOCA), Uniform Building Code (UBC), Southern Building Code Congress International Inc. (SBBCI), and International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO) – which have traditionally been revised every three years, while local jurisdictions decided what versions to adopt and enforce.

Currently, however, there is a move toward the International Building Code (IBC), which is published by the International Code Council (ICC) and includes standards and guidance for commercial buildings on doors, windows, and other openings.

A risk assessment is the next step toward developing a comprehensive security plan, and begins with developing a trend analysis

Still, despite this migration of codes from a patchwork of local decisions to global guidelines, there remains a lack of consensus around school security. The current fragmented approach causes confusion regarding how new schools are designed and how to retrofit existing school buildings, whose average age is 45+ years.

Right Protection Equipment

One can point to the fact that there hasn’t been one student lost in a school fire in over 50 years as testament to standards like NFPA 80 and NFPA 101 being referenced in model building codes. Additionally, schools incorporate evacuation drills as part of their emergency preparedness plans and practice on a regular basis.

It’s not just having the right protection equipment in the building, it’s also having a procedural layer in place to make sure everyone knows their roles and responsibilities in the event of fire. The stress of the actual event can limit ones’ ability to think clearly. Practice makes perfect. Why would we approach school security any differently?

Still, despite this migration of codes from a patchwork of local decisions to global guidelines, there remains a lack of consensus around school security.
School security is a team effort, and it is important to understand all the areas security impacts and involves

School security is a team effort. It is important to understand all the areas security impacts and involves. PASS suggests starting with a basic team consisting of:

  • Security Director
  • Local Law Enforcement
  • School Administrator
  • Integrator
  • Door and Hardware Consultant
  • IT Director

Comprehensive Security Plan

Quantifying and mitigating risk are the jobs of security professionals and school administratorsA risk assessment is the next step toward developing a comprehensive security plan. This often begins with conducting a trend analysis requiring the collection of data from a variety of public and private sources. The challenge is to pull these pieces into a usable and easily understood format that provides a guide for current and future risk concerns.

Risk assessment and mitigation can never eliminate risk. Quantifying and mitigating risk are the jobs of security professionals and school administrators. Data from the following sources can help measure risk:

  • Campus: Review incident report trends for at least the past 36 months.
  • Area and city: Review crime data from local law enforcement for the surrounding neighborhood and city.
  • Screening procedures: How is hiring conducted?
  • Anonymous tip reporting systems: Enabling students, staff members, parents and the community to anonymously alert administrators to perceived and actual threats.
  • Social media monitoring: such monitoring can provide important information that can be used to identify risks.
●	Social media monitoring: such monitoring can provide important information that can be used to identify risks.
Monitoring social media could help measure risk for school safety

Delay Adversarial Behaviors

These assessments can then be incorporated into the best practice approach of Layered Security. Layered security combines best practice components within each layer that effectively deter, detect and delay adversarial behaviors. Layered security works from the outside in. As one layer is bypassed, another layer provides an additional level of protection. The asset being protected is at the center of the layers – students, staff and authorized visitors. PASS defines five layers of Security:As one layer is bypassed, another layer provides an additional level of protection

  • District Wide
  • Property Perimeter
  • Parking Lot Perimeter
  • Building Perimeter
  • Classroom/Interior Perimeter

Appropriate Tier Target

Each layer can be broken down into Tier levels with Tier 1 being basic and Tier 4 being the highest level of security. It is important to understand that the demographics of individual school buildings varies, even within the same district. Security experts will quickly point out that ‘if you’ve seen one school, you’ve seen one school’. The assessments will determine the appropriate Tier target.

Layered security combines best practice components within each layer that effectively deter, detect and delay adversarial behaviors
Figure 1

Each layer includes essential protective elements, or components, of security. Every layer does not necessarily include all seven of these common components, and a layer may include additional components unique to that particular layer.

Safety And Security Components

  1. Policies & Procedures
  2. People (roles & training)
  3. Architectural
  4. Communication
  5. Access Control
  6. Video Surveillance
  7. Detection and Alarms

Layered Security

While components are not listed in a priority order, three components included in all layers are policies and procedures, the roles and training of people, and communication. These components often perform a function in every layer and every tier in each layer.

Three tools come together in the PASS approach as outlined in the new 4th Edition of the PASS Guidelines (Figure 2) - the Layers are established and defined, a Checklist/Assessment breaks down each layer into tiered best practices which then tie into the guidelines where a narrative explains each best practice in more detail.

Schools need not reinvent the wheel when it comes to school security planning
Figure 2 

Schools need not reinvent the wheel when it comes to school security planning. Following the best practices of Risk Assessments and Layered Security will ensure that every school building in a district will have a unique and comprehensive plan that is tailored to their individual needs.

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Mark Williams Sr. Architectural Consultant, Allegion plc

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Is The Physical Security Industry Doing Enough To Prevent School Shootings?
Is The Physical Security Industry Doing Enough To Prevent School Shootings?

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What’s New In U.S. Government Procurement For Security?
What’s New In U.S. Government Procurement For Security?

Last week, the Schedule 84 Suppliers Research Panel participated in reviewing the 2018 contracting year with the GSA Schedule 84 leadership team. Our panel group consists of experienced contractors and consultants meeting for a monthly conference call. Schedule 84 is the GSA Schedules Contract for Total Solutions for Law Enforcement, Security, Facilities Management, Fire and Rescue. Our opinions are part of a research program to provide valuable feedback to the GSA Schedule 84 program and on to the GSA central office. The director of GSA Region 7 Schedules Program, the Schedule 84 Branch Chief and the Category Manager Subject Matter Expert who manages our suppliers' panel gave us their full attention as we discussed the successes of the program, hot topics, problems and the future. We determined 2018 under the Schedule 84 team to be a year of innovative thoughts, cooperative effort and renewed enthusiasm Innovative Review Team We determined 2018 under the Schedule 84 team to be a year of innovative thoughts, cooperative effort, renewed enthusiasm and productive changes building upon the successes of 2017. There was high praise for the accessibility to the Schedule 84 staff. Their consistent quick response to questions and concerns, thinking outside the box and supporting the program by partnering with their contractors was much appreciated. There has been a renewed spirit of partnering to cooperatively bring the best to agency customers. It seems to be working as per the Center Director sales are growing for GSA Schedule 84. Advocating For The Security Industry In my experience, business development starts with the Administrator from Region 7 in Ft. Worth, TX. As the annual Schedule 84 Industry Day at the SSAC begins he is shaking every hand and passing out his cards looking folks right in the eye asking, “how can I help you?” They have the best practices and most organized paperwork. The SSAC director has chosen well in her staff and is hands-on in every endeavor to direct things along when challenges occur or to improve the program. The new 84 Branch Chief is knowledgeable, innovative, tireless and has been heavily involved in advocating for the security industry It continues with the center’s CASE Manager encouraging the contractors at events, visiting agency customers and promoting the GSA Schedules Program by helping coordinate the partnering. The new 84 Branch Chief is knowledgeable, innovative, tireless and has been heavily involved in advocating for the security industry for adding new technology, meeting with industry associations, understanding the complexity and challenges of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD12) and advocating for the purchasing Physical Access Control Systems (PACS) utilizing the appropriate standards and the GSA Program among other innovations. As far as the supplier panel, we gave our GSA Schedule 84 team and leaders high praise for 2018.   GSA also added new categories or SINs for clearly identifying Physical Access Control Products that appear on GSA’s Approved Product List Changes In The GSA Program Some changes this year in certain GSA programmes included the creation of a new category of products/services Special Item Number (SIN) for Order Level Materials (OLM) developed to assist with solution procurements. 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We presented from an industry perspective important fact on PACS system requirements, procurement planning, providing information on resources and further educating with panel discussions, individual presentations and amusing skits to over 300 Government agency staff and acquisition specialists. You can find some of the unedited recording of the PACS Reverse Industry Day Training on YouTube. Some changes included the creation of a new category of products/services Special Item Number (SIN) for Order Level Materials (OLM) GSA Schedules Program A hot topic about the GSA program for 2018 was also an issue for the prior year. The GSA Schedules Program is a streamlined contracting vehicle incorporating specific Federal Acquisition Regulations for more efficiently purchasing commercial items. Companies may apply per a continuous open season for a 5-year contract with three 5-year options to renew. Contractors are vetted for past performance, corporate experience and financial capability. 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Another challenge for the security community is regarding the lack of accessibility of participating dealers to GSA eBuy Overcoming Challenges For The Security Community Contractors may only see RFQs which are posted under the Special items Number(s) that were awarded to their GSA Contract Another challenge for the security community is regarding the lack of accessibility of participating dealers to GSA eBuy. GSA eBuy is an online Request for Quotation (RFQ) program that is for GSA Contract holders only. Agencies will post their requirements by Special Item Number for at a minimum 48 hours. Contractors may only see RFQs which are posted under the Special items Number(s) that were awarded to their GSA Contract. GSA Participating Dealers may take orders on behalf of a manufacturer if they are authorized under the manufacturer’s GSA Contract. They may also have an online PO Portal to receive orders. But they have no access to GSA eBuy to response to RFQs. 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How Internet Of Things (IoT) Aids Facility Management And Physical Security
How Internet Of Things (IoT) Aids Facility Management And Physical Security

As buildings become more complex and smarter, the age-old traditional maintenance methods that are based mostly on hands-on human monitoring are becoming more and more inadequate. Instead, the world is fast adopting building automation as a key component of smarter and more proactive maintenance strategies. The aim is to free up maintenance staff and give them time to focus on other tasks while machines monitor the different systems that work together to make the facility functional. Specifically, Internet of Things - or, IoT - enablement appears set to transform the way facility managers deliver service to building occupants. The trends are many and the possibilities are almost mind-boggling, from inventory management, to work scheduling and energy efficiency, the list goes on and on. Below, we look at a few ways in which IoT is being used for Facility Management and Security. Revolutionize Maintenance Through Condition-Based Maintenance For years now, the norm among maintenance professionals has been a time-based approach, or in simpler terms, performing maintenance operations after a set period of time. But a major flaw of this system is that components were being replaced periodically whether the parts were actually worn out or not. Of course, that meant some of these maintenance activities simply weren’t cost-effective. To avoid this waste from continuing, a subset of IoT known as IIoT can now be used to optimize the maintenance process. IIoT works as a centralized network of connected systems and devices that can talk to one another and generate and relay data Rather than changing parts on a time-based schedule, IIoT works as a centralized network of connected systems and devices that can talk to one another and generate and relay data. Selected equipment are fitted with sensors that monitor specific operational parameters and let maintenance professionals know how the machines under supervision are working, understand their current condition, and then pinpoint the optimum time they need to be maintained. The information generated this way is vital as it allows maintenance staff to intervene just in time to avoid costly downtime and other associated inconveniences. This is, in a nutshell, the basics of predictive maintenance and condition-based maintenance. These days, by implementing condition-based maintenance, IIoT is being used to effectively monitor a wide range of systems such as lighting, HVAC, fire suppression, security, etc. The applications are numerous and so are the benefits. On page 52 of this guide by the US Department of Energy, they state that a functional predictive maintenance program could yield up to 10 times ROI, reduce maintenance costs by 25% to 30%, and reduce downtime by 35% to 45% Along with fire suppression, IIoT is effectively monitoring a wide range of systems such as lighting, HVAC and security Remote Monitoring Of Facilities Physical inspections have been a critical condition for the success of conventional maintenance programs, even in hazardous environments. But, with the increasing emphasis on personnel safety, organizations want alternative solutions that allow staff to examine assets without being physically present. Facility managers and their team working in industries like manufacturing, oil and gas, and mining can relate with these constraints. And these industries can benefit greatly from deploying predictive maintenance solutions. For example, in the oil and gas industry, IIoT sensors can be used to monitor remote and highly critical assets. These sensors can be used on pipelines to detect anomalies (especially corrosion) and pass that information to supervisors for necessary action. By doing this, potential failures are quickly predicted to avoid often disastrous incidents. Managing Energy Consumption Sensors are also being embedded in building components and devices like HVAC systems, lights, doors, windows to understand energy consumption and proactively manage it. Facilities that use this technology could achieve substantial energy savings. In a press release by IT research and advisory company, Gartner, they stated that IoT can help reduce the cost of energy - as well as spatial management and building maintenance - by up to 30%. Looking at HVAC systems very closely, we see that they are a major source of energy usage in any building These sensors work by monitoring different conditions in the building and causing a power-saving action based on the data received. For instance, occupancy sensors can order lights to turn on when it senses motion in a room and then turn off the same lights when there is no presence there. That way, there is no need to wait for someone to remember to switch off the lights when they are not needed.   Another very common use is in HVAC monitoring. Looking at HVAC systems very closely, we see that they are a major source of energy usage in any building. So, the issue is how can one use IIoT to manage HVAC and possibly reduce their energy usage? Well, in its most common form, IoT-enabled HVAC works as a connection of sensors and thermostats that monitor factors like indoor air quality, temperature, and environmental changes then communicate with the rest of the HVAC equipment and make needed adjustments for occupants’ comfort. Not only that. IoT-enabled HVAC works as a connection of sensors and thermostats that monitor factors like indoor air quality, temperature, and environmental changes The Technology Can Be Configured To: Track energy consumption at different distribution points throughout the building. Track usage from the power source right down to the consumption point. Detect sudden voltage drops or spikes (usually an indication of some fault). These are essential benefits because HVAC units are notorious for consuming large amounts of energy when they are working inefficiently. Security And Access Control Smart surveillance is another important area of application for IoT in facilities management. It takes several forms such as the monitoring of life-saving systems like intruder or fire alarms, invisible barriers, and other safety installations. Facility managers are using IoT across different industries to obtain live information about potential emergency situations with a view to responding before the issue escalates. In such cases, quick detection of any strange activity is key because many of these installations have tangible negative effects when they fail or when they are intentionally sabotaged.Smart surveillance is another important area of application for IoT in facilities management Fortunately, the surveillance equipment can also be setup to send alerts to cellphones to aid emergency response or evacuation as the case may be. Smart surveillance is also priceless for monitoring the situation in partially or fully automated remote facilities (especially oil and gas installations and mines), and in hostile environments with critical equipment where humans cannot work for extended periods of time. If you are not yet using IoT in your facility, you may be wondering where to start from. To avoid getting overwhelmed, a good place to start would be to try a small-scale deployment of this technology then review its ROI and impact on your operations before adopting a more widespread IoT implementation. This way you can gradually scale up as you and your staff come to understand and adapt and to this new way of doing things.