School security: back to basics

June 2007 Integrated Solutions

It is easy to say there is an optimal security strategy for all schools and education facilities. Common sense tells us that it is not possible.

Risks can range from gang-related violence in one school, to armed students in another, to computer theft by students in another.

Schools need to identify what it is they want to protect. Is it teachers and students or is it the high-tech equipment? Usually, it is all three. They then need to identify who or what is the threat. This needs to be done carefully as few schools can afford a security solution that protects against all likely or possible incidents.

The potential security plan must incorporate the limitations of the school or university so that strengths, weaknesses and environmental conditions are provided for. Is it an old or new building? Are the windows barred? Is there an alarm? How many key holders are there? Are there gangs in the area? Is there a problem with students carrying guns or knives? Is the local crime rate high? What type of access control is required? Should it include the status of fees etc?

So where do we start? It is back to basics to design the security requirements for a school, or for that matter, any business head office or factory complex. An accurate base line security audit needs to be done. This must include a complete list of assets that are listed by room, area, department, classroom, media centres, laboratories, etc. This register must include serial numbers, photographs of items and proper descriptions. Every building on a campus should be listed. This can be an arduous task.

Morris Maram, MD of Emergency Reaction Services set out to find a working solution for this. He commissioned the writing of a computer asset register management program that could be used as part of the base line security audit for both businesses and educational facilities. After consultations with the doyens of the insurance industry, the program would ensure that the software contained all the requirements required by insurance companies to speedily complete any claims they might receive.

The program lists both the existing security elements in place such as alarms, burglar bars etc. as well as all assets. The assets are listed together with pictures, serial numbers, descriptions, values and copies of purchase invoices and locations. The program also includes listing motor vehicles, lawn mowers, tractors, etc. The program could speedily print out the information required for a claim form in the event of a robbery or vandalism.

The program includes a separate database section to store student names, addresses, photos, exam reports, qualifications, etc. It also includes students' guardian's names and next of kin, their contact numbers and who is allowed to collect children from school. This will prevent the tragedies that have occurred in the past. Morris Maram says: "The program can be customised for each school with the database requirements set up to include the schools individual needs."

For more information contact Emergency Reaction Services, +27 (0)11 234 6000, info@ersos.co.za, www.emergencyreaction.com



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