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Intruder alarm communicators - Expert commentary

Importance of establishing security standards for K12 schools
Importance of establishing security standards for K12 schools

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 organisations 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 organisations 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 prioritise 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 organisations with multiple safety and security products. School administrators are experts in running schools and providing education, but most are not security experts  Some of these organisations recognise 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, utilise, 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? 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 administrators A 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. 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 authorised 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 (Figure 1) . 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. 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 Policies & Procedures People (roles & training) Architectural Communication Access Control Video Surveillance Detection and Alarms 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. 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.

Highlighting the importance of security integrations and alliances
Highlighting the importance of security integrations and alliances

Most technology companies have one goal in mind: to provide customers with high-quality, affordable products that can efficiently help streamline operations. Whether it's surveillance cameras, video management software, access control technology or any other type of security device, today's leading organisations invest in expertise in these product segments and strive to produce the highest quality solutions. To effectively fulfill this task, technology providers are always searching for emerging components to make their products and services even stronger. Oftentimes, a key aspect necessary to build a comprehensively robust solution involves finding like-minded partners that share a common goal and are willing to work together to create an integration that increases insight and intelligence.The interoperability between systems, devices and different types of applications should be intuitive and fast Key factors for security integrations A basic factor in a partnership is openness. For an integration to perform seamlessly for the end user, the platform through which the technologies converge must follow standard protocols, easily operate with other platforms, allow freedom and customisation, and provide adaptability. The interoperability between systems, devices and different types of applications should be intuitive and fast, enabling more time to be spent on analysing critical data and responding to security events. The puzzle of a complete security solution contains many pieces, and it's often necessary to fuse together aspects from various providers to create a best-in-breed technology offering. When organisations collaborate, the end result is a simplified solution with an increased level of value. As threats become more severe and complex, customers demand solutions that combine different security and business elements into a single interface that can address a wide variety of risks. A unified security system requires a strong collaboration between technology providers and integrated solutions Interconnected security devices Users used to only look at specific security devices - such as cameras or door alarms - as each having a strong, autonomous purpose, but now, every device plays an important interconnected role. And the progression of the Internet of Things (IoT) has made this transition even easier, as maintaining a consistent and uniform communication and interconnectivity between devices has now become the norm. The IoT has also made it so that partnerships must not only exist between manufacturers, but also within the customer's organisational structure. Although exceptionally beneficial, the IoT brings with it an increased amount of cyber vulnerabilities. As security systems are networked to increase flexibility, the door is opened to a number of potential threats that could compromise the entire enterprise. This risk highlights the need for an internal partnership and knowledge sharing between a company's physical security professionals and its IT team. IT experts should be pulled into security decisions and positioned as collaborative partners to assist with software updates, data safety protocols and solving complex network challenges, ultimately leading to a more cyber secure solution.Partnerships are beneficial to both the companies involved and their customers Knowledge sharing and learning Aside from cybersecurity, the latest prominent security attacks and events have focused primarily on soft targets, such as schools, concerts or shopping malls. This has caused many technology providers to venture into different vertical markets, and strong partnerships streamline this crossover. Innovators can extend their geographic reach and purpose through integrations with other like-minded manufacturers or integrators to add new levels of functionalities. Of course, a partnership cannot operate properly and to the best of its ability without a core component: learning. In today's evolving business and risk environment, knowledge is critical. A shared knowledge base can open up new opportunities and lead to the strengthening of security across many levels. A truly powerful, unified security system requires a strong collaboration between technology providers and integrated solutions. Partnerships are beneficial to both the companies involved and their customers, and the results created through these alliances can reach far beyond a user's expectations, offering enhanced flexibility and extensive safety options.

Mass security screening technology for large events
Mass security screening technology for large events

Live events at large venues like arenas, stadiums or convention halls – whether they involve wrestlers breaking chairs over each other’s heads, Axl and Slash letting bygones be bygones and reuniting Guns ‘n’ Roses, your favorite NFL team annihilating the opposition 62-3, or a convention involving anything from politics to food to Star Trek – are exciting affairs that channel the camaraderie of the crowd into a powerful collective energy. But they also are vulnerable to threats. Physical security solutions Terrorists and other malefactors have known for centuries that any large gathering of people has inherent vulnerabilities on which they can prey: Crowds make it hard for security to keep track of any single person or spot unusual behavior, and the number of people congregated in one space amplifies the impact of any attack. In recent years, organisers of large events have augmented the security methods they use to protect a venue, using both walk-through metal detectors and hand wands, and deploying K9 and police units to patrol the lines to enter security. But these current methods share a universal flaw: to be caught, evil-doers have to be on the verge of actually entering the venue with hundreds of other people, which means they can still cause a massive amount of destruction. In a survey conducted by Brivo, 50 percent of business security leaders felt they lack adequate budget and financial resources to invest in physical security solutions. Augmented security measures Organisers of large events have augmented the security methods they use to protect a venue, using both walk-through metal detectors and hand wands Security professionals and event organisers are constantly on the verge of finding new methods to implement in order to add an extra layer of security at venues and large facilities. For example, at this year’s Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California, which attracts over 100,000 attendees each year, organisers boosted their security initiatives by adding drones, armed guards, magnetometers and dog patrols. Unfortunately, large entertainment festivals have been a target for ill-intended individuals. Last year, the 91 Route Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada took the lives of more than 50 people and injured over 500. In the United Kingdom, 22 people lost their lives to a suicide bomber at an Arianna Grande concert in the Manchester Arena. Yet, concerts aren’t the only place new security initiatives and technology need to be implemented in, but also sports arena and large facilities. Metrasens partnered with Villa Park, the football grounds for Aston Villa Football Club in the UK, to conduct a trial using FMDS technology, Proscreen 900, to screen fans Current screening methods Conventional walk-through metal detectors are a compromise between effective screening and high throughput, as they successfully detect metal objects, but only can screen about five or six people each minute. They are generally placed 10 to 20 yards from a venue’s front façade, either just outside or just inside, to screen people as they enter the facility. Hand wands are used for anyone that sets off the walk-through detector as a secondary screening method for confirmation. Many facilities also use observational methods to screen, such as drones, CCTV, security officers or police walking the crowd and looking for suspicious behavior, or explosives-sniffing K9 units patrolling the area. Security personnel are aware of these pre-security-screening vulnerabilities around the perimeter of the venue Security method limitations Each of these methods has intrinsic limitations. Observational security methods are just that – observation-based, not detection-based. They rely much more heavily on human factors that introduce greater degrees of error and chance, and positive visual identification of a suspicious threat requires a relatively close proximity to observe the threat. They’re also slow and laborious. Walk-through detectors and wands will catch someone trying to enter a facility with a weapon, but by the time they do, it may be too late – a terrorist will already be well within proximity to do a lot of damage. Bad guys don’t need to actually enter the venue; they just need to get close enough to injure or kill a large number of people. That can happen – and has happened, such as with Manchester Arena bombing in 2017 – right at the security point, where a terrorist will be surrounded by dozens or hundreds of people and 10 to 20 yards away from the critical asset: the interior of the venue. Security personnel are aware of these pre-security-screening vulnerabilities around the perimeter of the venue. What they haven’t had until recently is a way to screen mass amounts of people for weapons of mass casualty as far away from the critical asset as they can, and as far away from densely populated areas as they can, all while not impeding throughput resulting from the requirement for patrons to divest their possessions. Expanding security reach with FMDS The far perimeter of a venue is an ideal place to screen for weapons of mass casualty. Most of the time, a terrorist is trying to get closer to the immediate perimeter of the venue, to inflict the most damage to large groups of people waiting to get in; farther away, event attendees are walking toward the entrance and thus are more dispersed, not standing in clusters or lines. This advance screening is possible using ferromagnetic detection systems (FMDS). The FMDS systems in the trial, Proscreen 900, were placed outside, where individuals were screened for large weapons before they even entered the football stadium Metrasens recently partnered with a football stadium in Birmingham, UK to conduct a trial using FMDS technology to screen fans. The trial took place in March at Villa Park, the football grounds for Aston Villa Football Club. The stadium can hold over 42,000 people. The FMDS systems in the trial, Proscreen 900, were placed outside, where individuals were screened for large weapons before they even entered the football stadium, adding an extra layer of security. FMDS is highly accurate – there is no false alarm rate, because it is programmed to find only what security personnel need to find In the most basic terms, FMDS uses passive sensors that evaluate disturbances in the earth’s magnetic field made by something magnetic moving through its detection zone. Everything else is invisible to it; it doesn’t see people, clothing, backpacks, purses, etc. Nothing can be used to shield the threat, because FMDS doesn’t detect metallic mass; it detects a magnetic signature, down to a millionth of the earth’s magnetic field. It is also highly accurate – there is no false alarm rate, because it is programmed to find only what security personnel need to find (e.g., a weapon). Although it is a passive technology, it is more effective and reliable than using observational security methods to screen a perimeter, because the technology will never miss something the way a human would. Recognising moving magnetic signatures An important point is that the system only works on moving objects. This makes it immune to environmental conflicts such as rebar that would trip up conventional metal detectors and allowing people to be screened quickly and unobtrusively without stopping to divest their possessions as they walk toward a venue – up to 50 or 60 people a minute. FMDS does not need people to be organised into lines or groups; it simply detects a magnetic signature on anything that passes. It runs on batteries – there is no need for an electricity source, as with a walk-through detector – and can be placed on just about any form factor (a pole, a stand, etc.). This gives security personnel flexibility when deploying FMDS, allowing them to create a wide perimeter around a venue without worrying about portability or a power source. Screening can be as obvious or as concealed as personnel prefer for a particular situation, based on the form factor they select. FMDS simply gives the opportunity to add a layer of security where there currently is not an effective solution All of these combine into a solution that creates a way to close a gap in mass screenings at large events, by expanding the secure perimeter and creating a highly accurate way to detect weapons of mass casualty farther away from a critical asset and large crowds. It does not replace screening for smaller items necessarily, and all large venues should use a layered security solution that also deploys tactics like roving security guards, walk-through metal detectors and hand wands. FMDS simply gives the opportunity to add a layer of security where there currently is not an effective solution. Effective mass screening solution Pessimists sometimes muse the world is getting more dangerous with each passing year, and that technology is at least partially responsible for both the breadth and depth of the increasingly creative ways bad guys harm people. But some technologies also are responsible for helping to fight against those threats and make the world safer, and FMDS is one of those. By providing a foolproof method of detecting weapons of mass casualty before terrorists get too close to an event venue, FMDS gives event security personnel a way to better protect large events, making them less dangerous and keeping people safe. Images source: Metrasens