Integrators must understand that the K-12 market has a unique and urgent need for access control, but with limited budgets Systems integrators play a key role delivering effective security solutions to the kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) education market. Schools certainly depend on an integrator’s expertise regarding which electronic products to choose. However, schools also rely the benefit of an integrator’s experience and the insight gained by putting security practices in action on a daily basis. “Schools need integrators who can help them solve problems by performing overall risk assessment and work within their budget to meet their needs,” says Minu Youngkin, Allegion vertical marketing manager. Forming relationships with school superintendents is one route for integrators into the education market, says Youngkin. However, integrators should also form relationships with other stakeholders, such as architects, general contractors, manufacturers and independent security advisors. Youngkin advises integrators to “follow the money trail.” They should know which districts have bond money and the goals set forth in the bond effort. Integrators can also help districts with grants such as a federal Department of Education hardware grant or a Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) grant. Helping districts write grant applications builds goodwill even if the grant request is unsuccessful. An understanding of the mechanical hardware (as well as the electronics) is foundational to success, says Youngkin. “You have to understand a door opening’s solution in its entirety. In schools, that typically includes a fair amount of mechanical hardware based on how the building is being used as well as Fire Life Safety Codes that dictate the type of hardware you use on certain openings.” New Technologies Expand Integrator’s Role Historically speaking, the K-12 school security market often has been driven by low bids with very basic security technology requirements, says Sean McGrath, vice president of marketing and business development, ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions. As heightened security needs have taken center stage within school systems, the emergence and benefits of security technology innovation such as wireless and power over Ethernet intelligent access control locks, IP video and emergency communication systems are expanding the integrator’s role, which is becoming increasingly more important in creating secure environments. Integrators servicing the K-12 education market should be proactively involved with the local committees responsible for defining a school system’s security objectives during the pre-construction phase, says McGrath. In those cases where a school system does not have the budgetary flexibility to hire a professional security consultant to act on their behalf, they will openly embrace the education that many security integrators can provide. The end user community will benefit greatly from integrators taking a consultative approach – not a sales approach – in assisting them to find a balance between the school system’s budgetary framework and its security objectives. It is also important for the end user community to understand the value of a long-term preventative service plan for critical security technology implementation and to budget accordingly post-construction, says McGrath. Look to Solve Problems, Not Design Systems School security consultant Paul Timm, president of RETA Security, says schools are getting away from relying on integrators to design systems. More often, integrators are asked to solve problems rather than design systems. He says integrators should be solution-oriented and part of a collaborative team that includes the architect, door hardware people and outside consultants. “Administrators are looking for someone they can trust,” he says. Integrators can also help to identify funding sources, says Timm. “If integrators were aware of grant programs, that would help schools. Any resources you can bring as an integrator can help.” Knowledge of government or foundation grants, money available from manufacturers such as US Cellular, and other funding sources can be helpful to school systems. “Most schools have no idea of what’s available unless it’s a big statewide program,” he says. Many K-12 education districts lack an experienced security director on premises. In those cases, administrators typically seek out a local security integrator to provide guidance in developing a program Many K-12 districts lack an experienced security director on premises. In those cases, administrators typically seek out a local security integrator to provide guidance in developing a program, says John Mosebar, vice president, marketing, Aiphone Corp., manufacturer of audio and video intercoms. This is an opportunity for security professionals to maximize their value by providing the equipment and services each campus needs. The integrator can also help with training on equipment as well as assist in setting policies and procedures for the security function, he says. Take a Consultative, Solution-Based Approach Security integrators must address the K-12 market with a consultative, solutions-based approach, says Bruce Montgomery, Business Development Manager, Honeywell. A pitfall can be assuming that all schools face the same challenges and that one previously successful system can be duplicated in its entirety for another school. “Previous incidents and installations should be studied and referenced to provide proven solutions for managing crisis situations, but it is crucial to couple research and knowledge of previous installations with an open mind to seek out the unique security challenges of a particular school,” says Montgomery. “At Honeywell, our research has indicated that using one integrated family of products improves not only ease of installation but, more importantly for the school districts, a unified platform for improved user experience. “ Integrators must understand that the K-12 market has a unique and urgent need for access control, and they have limited budgets, says Rob Mossman, CEO of Isonas. Superintendents have many constituents to satisfy, from parents to state governments. They have limited time windows for installation, and little room for error. IP cameras expanded quickly into K-12 due to the simplicity and cost savings of IP architecture. An integrator must be savvy to provide solutions that build off existing hardware and software systems, rather than rip and replace. Small legacy systems often need to be taken over, and new doors need to be added. Pure IP access control provides the unique flexibility, speed, cost savings and open architecture that work perfectly in K-12, says Mossman. Security integrators must address the K-12 market with a consultative, solutions-based approach Youngkin of Allegion lists some other ways integrators can foster relationships with education clients: Apply to be listed on a state’s buying cooperative associations. Schools prefer working through these entities because it eases the procurement process and saves time. Attend school association events, networking, industry trade shows. Donate money to a bond campaign. Develop manufacturer partnerships and leverage the training they provide. Help develop a plan and budget that allow schools to consider all the scenarios they face or could potentially face, and put the right resources in place to ensure the best possible outcome. Youngkin also suggests several questions to ask education clients to direct the security conversation: Do you have an emergency/crisis management plan? Who manages the security system? How do you communicate to staff and teachers in the event of an emergency? How do you move through the building on a daily basis (including after school and on weekends)? Do you practice lockdowns? How does a lockdown work? Are there different levels (i.e., lockout versus lockdown)? How long does it take to lock down? How do you react based on different times of the day (i.e., recess)? What are your goals?
School administrators are now choosing products that make the biggest, long-term impact on campus security Well-publicised events such as the U.S. school shootings at Columbine and Sandy Hook lead to an increased demand of security equipment to protect kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) education campuses. But do they also result in buying decisions made on impulse that don’t necessarily meet a school’s most pressing security needs? Increase In Demand For Security Systems In the immediate aftermath of the December 2012 Sandy hook massacre, for example, many security manufacturers saw significant interest in their solutions. Through 2014, that momentum slowed somewhat as school administrators became more deliberative in their selections, choosing products that made the biggest, long-term impact on campus security, says John Mosebar, Vice President, Marketing, Aiphone Corp. Planning Cost-Effective School Security “Mass shootings put public pressure on school officials to act quickly to deter active shooters on their campuses,” says school security consultant Paul Timm, president of RETA Security. But in reality, these shootings are still relatively rare. Schools need to be prepared for the everyday events that cause problems and put a strain on tight budgets, he says. Those events include burglary, vandalism, gangs and drug sales. Electronic security products can help reduce these incidents. “There’s always value to increased awareness,” says Timm. “Sometimes there’s a kneejerk reaction – let’s install bulletproof glass – but wouldn’t we rather have some improvement in safety measures than no improvement? Hardly ever it is a totally wasted expenditure, but we’re trying to educate people to have a holistic, balanced approach.” That’s where professional integrators and risk assessments play an important role. “Here’s what I tell schools,” says Timm. “I’m not focused on the active shooter. I want to help you with the emergency of an active shooter, but don’t forget your environmental emergency plans (such as tornadoes). We’re always more concerned about what puts people in danger, such as lack of access control, which is relevant to an active shooter, or domestic violence or a mentally ill person. I think there’s an overemphasis on active shooter.” Preparing For A Security Breach Timm compares being prepared for a security breach to the importance of holding fire drills in the school environment. The dangers of fire in educational environments first became top-of-mind some 54 years ago after fire broke out in the Our Lady of the Angels Catholic School in Chicago, Ill. A total of 92 pupils and three nuns could not escape and died from smoke, heat, fire and toxic gases. As a result of the tragedy, today every school does fire drills and has fire systems. "We prepared the kids,” says Timm. “We should prepare people for acts of violence, just as we prepare them for fires or weather emergencies. There's too much violence to say we shouldn't run some drills." Integrating surveillance with access control and intrusion systems in combination with physical deterrents such as laminate on windows and bulletproof mantraps as well as rigorous personnel training drastically improves the likelihood of a positive outcome stemming from an incident Employing Various Security Technologies For A Safe Educational Environment School shootings are devastating to the students, faculty and community, says Bruce Montgomery, Business Development Manager, Honeywell. “I would hope it wouldn’t take an awful incident to prompt administrators to make improvements,” he comments. “That said, many schools have benefitted from taking more precautions, as there unfortunately still are many schools lacking adequate security. Many schools, for instance, have installed surveillance cameras for security purposes. But cameras alone aren’t enough to prevent an incident. Integrating surveillance with access control and intrusion systems in combination with physical deterrents such as laminate on windows and bulletproof mantraps as well as rigorous personnel training drastically improves the likelihood of a positive outcome stemming from an incident.” Anytime there is a school tragedy, the security and safety of the facility gets plenty of attention, says Andrew Schonzeit, CEO of Idesco, a security integrator. “I think when something happens, facilities become reactionary to what they believe they need to make them more secure, or feel more secure,” he says. ”Schools might implement their own internal lockdown drills and then, after a few weeks, there is a return to a sense of normalcy.” Unfortunately, it takes a tragedy to gain awareness, but that should not be, says Schonzeit. K-12 facilities should have a revolving three-year security plan that involves assessments, costs and a schedule for implementation, he says. “With each of these events comes the realisation that an incident can happen anywhere,” says Sean McGrath, vice president of marketing and business development, ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions. “So in that sense, they are a wake-up call and spur quick action from schools that have put off security reviews. In this rush to action, some administrators make the mistake of not considering a holistic approach to security. They may install a few new products without first completing an audit of their facility and carefully researching all available options.” That’s a mistake.
Schools are unlike commercial buildings or other facilities in several ways, and the differences impact how they should be secured. For one thing, the inhabitants are mainly children and won’t carry card credentials. Also, schools have distinct traffic flows and are open all hours of the day for after-school activities and evening and weekend usage. “Security solutions must take into account this flexible and fluid schedule,” says Minu Youngkin, vertical marketing manager, Allegion. Also, schools tend to have a longer selling cycle – typically an average of 18 months, Youngkin adds. The sales process is also more complex and involves multiple stakeholders. Other considerations include propped doors, multiple visitors, high staff turnover and competing budgets. Each School Presents Its Own Unique Challenges The changing education environment is also among the unique challenges of the K-12 education marketplace. “I think the typical classroom setting is long gone,” says Andrew Schonzeit, CEO of Idesco, a security integrator. “Every school is unique and should be treated as such; you may have to alter your installation schedule to not interfere with the day-to-day flow of the school schedule.” For example, there are technical schools available in the 9-12 grade range, and many schools now offer co-teaching classrooms for children on the autism/Asperger’s spectrum. “Ultimately, you want to provide a solution that is driven by the needs of the client,” adds Schonzeit. Another important point is that the needs of all K-12 schools evolve very quickly and from one year to the other, their security requirements might change. As an integrator, it is essential to anticipate these changes and provide each school with a scalable solution that can be adapted at any time, says Schonzeit. K-12 school security is different from other types of installs, agrees Rob Mossman, CEO of Isonas, an IP access control company. The motivations in K-12 schools are different and more urgent. The windows of time for installation are tighter. Buildings are often older and budgets are tighter. He says IP technology provides a solution for K-12 schools because the flexibility and cost savings fit these unique problems. Upgrading Basic School Security Reducing costs by improving system efficiency is not a new concept, but with growing interconnectivity of formerly disparate building systems, the opportunity to leverage connected upgrades may continue to gain ground Schools are beginning to rethink the basics, adds John Mosebar, vice president, marketing, Aiphone Corp., a manufacturer of audio and video intercoms. That trend will result in taller and stronger fencing to protect campuses, for example. More lighting will illuminate schools at night. And CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) principles will guide building design and landscaping to maximize security benefits. From advanced video management systems integrated with access control authorization technology to intrusion sensors linked to email and text message notification, true end-to-end solutions can be tailored to meet the unique needs of each education installation, says Bruce Montgomery, business development manager, Honeywell. Native integration between access control, video and intrusion products and services streamlines the user experience, providing one unified platform at a cost-effective price point, he adds. The K-12 school market is also increasingly interested in security features combined with or complemented by automation features, says Montgomery. As schools revamp their systems to improve and integrate intrusion, access and video systems, there is an opportunity to present additional lifestyle enhancements, such as lighting and HVAC control, that improve ease-of-use while simultaneously reducing costs and easing environmental burden. Reducing costs by improving system efficiency is not a new concept, but with growing interconnectivity of formerly disparate building systems, the opportunity to leverage connected upgrades may continue to gain ground among this group of customers. ASSA ABLOY’s smart door opening solutions ASSA ABLOY provides all the components to create door opening solutions that meet the needs of any end user application – doors, frames, locks, hardware, gasketing, door controls, electronic access control devices and key systems. By bringing all these doorway components together, ASSA ABLOY is able to create solutions that address common security challenges. For schools, these challenges include the obvious like classroom and perimeter security, durability and reliability. Then there are the not-so-obvious factors, such as noise abatement, energy efficiency and sustainability, storm shelter requirements (depending on geography) and accessibility needs. ASSA ABLOY Group brands work together to create door opening solutions that address all these school-related issues. New locking and access control innovations are filling the technological void that occupied the realm of medium security doors, says ASSA ABLOY. Long trapped in a vacuum between high- and low-security openings, medium security is now filled with electronic locking solutions that secure doorways without draining budgets. The void was the result of a technology gap that left facilities with a difficult choice – protect the assets behind these doorways with simple mechanical locks or over-secure the openings with costly hardwired devices. There was no continuum of technologies to bridge the gap between high- and low-security openings. Electronic locks have now evolved to the point where it’s possible to examine every opening in a facility and customize the level of security needed for each door. The motivations in K-12 schools are different and more urgent. The windows of time forinstallation are tighter. Buildingsare often older and budgetsare tighter Wireless Access Control Locks Today’s wireless access control locks are making it possible to implement online access control on any facility doorway, even if it’s in a remote part of the school. This will give administrators better control over all facility doorways without having to run expensive wiring and making other infrastructure improvements. Impact of Sustainability Sustainability is another big issue that impacts security of schools. Buildings that want to improve energy efficiency can now choose an access control solution that consumes up to 97 percent less power than previous generations of technology, says Sean McGrath, vice president of marketing and business development, ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions. Product transparency is another hot sustainability-related topic. May new construction projects will only consider products that have Health Product or Environmental Product Declarations that list material ingredients and their potential health impact.