The Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS) released its K-12 security guidelines in April 2015 at ISC West in Las Vegas

The PASS guidelines don’t just point to specific technologies; they address security
issues and help guide school administrators to make their schools safer and more secure

From K-12 to college campuses, schools need integrated solutions and proactive measures to lessen the potential of active shooters while targeting general loss prevention and security. The good news is that technology is available to address nearly every threat and challenge, and systems integrators and others have upped their game, providing comprehensive, proactive consultations to the education market.

According to the Institute of Education Sciences and National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), schools continue to use technology increasingly to address security and safety challenges. Overall, there has been an ongoing increase in the use of technology in schools. For example, the NCES cites the percentage of schools that used one or more security cameras to monitor the school in 2013–14 (75 percent) was higher than it was in 2009–10 (61 percent) with other technologies on the upswing as well.

PASS takes holistic security approach

Security industry organisations, such as the National Systems Contractors Association, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and the Security Industry Association, Silver Spring, Maryland, are working to establish realistic and effective guidelines for school security. The Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS), powered by NSCA and SIA, released its K-12 security guidelines in April 2015 at ISC West in Las Vegas in an effort to make technology easier to implement and help schools become safer.

The PASS guidelines

  • Define threats common to schools at each educational level
  • Offer recommendations on parental and community involvement
  • Detail a layered security approach that combats common threats and mitigates risks related to active shooters
  • Provide information for integrators, school administrators, resource officers, and IT staff on technology-focused solutions like video surveillance, duress alarms, and electronic access control
  • Deliver scalable/tiered measures that administrators can implement based on available resources and local risk levels

Advance Technology, Scarborough, Maine, as well as other systems integration firms, manufacturers and consultants, is a PASS-endorsing organisation, according to Rob Simopoulos, President, working with the organisation and others to promote unified efforts. PASS recently updated the initial guidelines to include a new position statement on classroom barricade devices.

"It's critical for us to be involved in programs such as PASS," says Simopoulos. "Working together as a united front in the industry, we can help schools become proactive and help them become better prepared."

"The guidelines and assessment tools from PASS are not designed to simply point schools towards specific technology. They are designed to take a broader brushstroke to challenges and issues and help guide school administrators through the steps they can take in making their schools safer and more secure,” he adds.

Programme gaining traction with schools

According to Chuck Wilson, NSCA Executive Director and a Steering Committee Director for PASS, the response to the programme has been extremely positive, and it continues to gain traction. “We see this as a great educational tool, a resource, a way to start a technology roadmap, and a way for schools to build an attainable budget. We have been inundated with requests to download the PASS School Security guidelines, and they are beginning to be used in the field.”

The next step is the creation and dissemination of a PASS assessment tool and tool kits that piggyback with the guidelines. “With the PASS assessment tool, integrators can work with school officials to find out what technology they have in place, what can be enhanced or modified to meet the guidelines,and what they can budget for. The PASS tool kits will be custom-designed for the specific audience; for example, for school administrators it might provide information on how to write a grant or respond to a school referendum bond targeting security,” Wilson says. The PASS Steering Committee will meet at ISC West 2016 to address those items.

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Author profile

Deborah O'Mara Owner, DLO Communications

Deborah L. O’Mara, SourceSecurity.com's dealer/integrator correspondent, is a veteran of the security marketplace, having extensive experience in security, fire alarm technology and integrated systems.

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