Six steps to heightened security in education facilities

Issue 2 2020 Education (Industry)

While educational institutions remain one of the safest places for students to be, increased global trends in crime are creating a contrary opinion for parents and students. “It is important to take these concerns into consideration and develop a security plan that addresses risks and threats.

Tim Timmins.

Creating a safer environment requires a comprehensive prevention and response strategy that actively involves students, parents, staff, faculty and the community. The best way to begin addressing these fears is to be prepared with a plan and create an open dialogue with the various stakeholders,” says Tim Timmins, sales director at Impro Technologies. “We suggest following these six steps to ensure that security risks are covered.”

1. Assess and plan

Developing an emergency plan that considers a variety of potential dangers to a learning environment is the first step in protecting the students. This could include assembling a security risk team, conducting the actual assessment, uncovering threats and vulnerabilities and building an emergency plan.

2. Central entry point

Limiting and monitoring entrances reduces the opportunity for criminal activity, while concurrently limiting the cost to secure educational facilities. The entry point should be manned by security or other front-office personnel and equipped with one or more CCTV cameras. Visitors should also be required to exit the same way they entered and to check out before they leave the building.

• Staff the entry point with security or front-office personnel. Visitors (anyone without a badge) should be identified, verified and badged before entering. Best practices recommend requiring a government-issued ID to be presented before a temporary visitor badge is issued.

• Where possible, create a physical barrier. Many schools use a security vestibule, hut or double entry system, which allows staff members to screen guests before granting them access to the building. Some schools are going a step further by building restrooms and small conference rooms outside the ‘firewall’ to accommodate visitor needs without impacting security protocols.

• Lock down all other potential entry and exit points. Use locks or other hardware to prevent access to the building from the roof, windows or vents. Make sure no structures or building features could allow climbing access to adjoining windows or roofs. Further, fit all exterior entries with hardware that facilitates a full perimeter lockdown in an emergency.

3. Know who is inside

An effective visitor management system and process improves the safety and security of students and staff. Identifying and badging visitors to an educational facility can be labour-intensive and time consuming. As a result, many facilities are choosing automated visitor management systems which can complete verification and badge printing in less than a minute.

Facilities can then manage who enters the building, when and for what purpose, while reducing the staff time and energy required to do this. For parents of children at schools, there is the reassurance that administrators have full knowledge of who has access to their school.

4. Develop surveillance

Together, formal and informal surveillance can provide a powerful deterrent and thwart potential threats before a crisis occurs.

• Use appropriate equipment such as HD cameras, positioned to show visitors’ faces and offer good sight lines down hallways and into stairwells.

• Monitor the entry lobby.

• Don’t forget the hard-to-see areas such as parking areas, drop-off zones and other exterior areas.

• Encourage informal surveillance. To enhance the effectiveness of informal surveillance, staff should receive regular, ongoing training regarding school policies, procedures and action plans.

5. Limit visitor access

Learning institutions can be divided into securable zones and students, staff and visitors can be given access control smartcards which allow entry only to the appropriate areas. “Going a step further and colour-coding the visitor cards will alert people to whether the visitor is supposed to be in a secured zone, or if security needs to be notified,” says Timmins.

“Training your staff is just as important as upgrading your access control system or implementing zoning principles. While things like electronic access control, smart access cards and associated door hardware are critical to keeping a campus secure, staff training and adherence to policies is equally important,” he adds.

6. Use of access control IDs

In addition to identifying students and staff, access cards/IDs can perform other functions that help streamline student and personnel management. Rolling visual identification, student enrolment, dorm rights and food service capabilities into one single badge makes it easier for students and administrators to track and manage important daily functions.

These could include:

• Time and attendance.

• Employee management software, such as various ERP systems.

• Student accommodation or transportation.

• Canteen and catering services.

• Transactions at libraries or book stores.

• Student enrolment.

“The easiest and most important action an educational facility can take to become more secure, is to drive all visitor and unbadged traffic, including students and staff, to a centrally located, easily monitored entry point. Impro has supplied access control technology for a number of educational facilities that have expressed a need for enhancements in their security profile,” says Timmins.


Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Salient Systems manages campus security
Education (Industry) CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring Access Control & Identity Management
The University of Massachusetts Amherst relies on Salient Systems for video, access control operations for flagship campus as it standardises on IP surveillance.

Touchless school access control
neaMetrics Suprema Editor's Choice Access Control & Identity Management Integrated Solutions Education (Industry) Products
Wolverhampton Grammar School deployed a Suprema access control solution, integrated with Paxton to resolve its legacy access control challenges.

Protecting people and infrastructure
Cathexis Technologies Education (Industry)
Effective security and infrastructure management enhances every aspect of an educational facility. Students and staff can prioritise their educational and operational goals because they trust that the ...

Touchless access to education
ZKTeco Education (Industry)
Visible light facial recognition technology gives one an endless platform to create a full security system without people, especially intruders, having knowledge of them being monitored.

Installation is only a third of the job
Technews Publishing Education (Industry)
Fire safety is often ignored in student accommodation once the building is completed and the fire safety installation certified, says Michael van Niekerk, CEO of ASP Fire.

Schools and universities deserve smarter fire detection
Education (Industry)
Gaining more time is a key reason for changing from the familiar point-type fire detectors to aspirating smoke detection (ASD), also known as air sampling detectors.

Complete campus control
Gallagher Education (Industry)
Creating a secure yet welcoming environment can seem like a complicated task, especially when considering the additional challenges of managing campuses spread across multiple sites and the necessity of reducing energy use.

The benefits of physical barriers
BoomGate Systems Education (Industry)
Most education facilities and student accommodations require turnstiles as an absolute necessity to ensure secure, yet convenient physical access control.

School, college and campus security in focus
Education (Industry)
IDIS eBook highlights role of new generation of solutions, including emerging analytics in protecting educational facilities of all types and sizes.

Tech becomes competitive advantage for schools
Education (Industry)
Investing in digital technology gives schools a competitive advantage and appeals to the younger generation, especially now that distance and blended learning have become the norm.