A safe school environment is a prerequisite for productive learning. When students feel as though their safety is compromised, this affects their learning performance. To enhance levels of security, it’s important to know which methods of lockdown are suited and which should be avoided.

Andrew Shaw, architectural consultant for Allegion UK, discusses the importance of bespoke security solutions and prioritising quality. He says, 'Students need to feel safe in order to learn.'

Safe and secure classroom environment

Research has shown that classroom climate – all of the characteristics of a classroom – correlates with student achievement. This means that if students feel unsafe, it’s likely to affect their performance.

However, because there’s no single, 'one size fits all' answer to security, implementing the 'right' solution may seem like a minefield.

On top of knowing specific performance requirements, school governing bodies must know which locking protocols to adhere to and which to avoid

School lockdown protocols

Because of this, it’s now more important than ever that school officials not only know the options available to them but are also making decisions tailored to their own individual requirements.

On top of knowing specific performance requirements, school governing bodies must know which locking protocols to adhere to and which to avoid.

Security at every layer

A safe and secure environment is at the crux of every successful school strategy.

When it comes to classroom security, significance should be placed on how staff and teachers can maximise their protection and that of students. The key to any successful classroom lockdown operation is selecting the appropriate credentials based on individual requirements.

Selecting appropriate credentials

In addition to this, one thing that various credentials are often accused of is being too costly an investment to step into. In reality, a limited budget shouldn’t put a compromise on high-quality products. That’s not to ignore the fact that many schools are under budget pressures. However, the scope of security solutions available to the UK market means that schools are able to find solutions suited to their needs and budget.

Implementing an effective lockdown safety plan, including staff protocol and places to hide, can also help you in being prepared for critical situations

Dos

There are a number of baseline protocols to uphold to ensure classroom security is kept at an all-time high. For example, remembering to keep doors closed and locked while rooms are in use will enable faster lockdown in emergency situations.

Implementing an effective lockdown safety plan, including staff protocol and places to hide, can also help you in being prepared for critical situations.

Installing hardware suited to your needs – whether mechanical, electronic or a combination – are each beneficial for everyday use as well as in emergencies.

Don’ts

There are some measures that don’t mitigate risk, they instead put staff and students in greater danger.

It’s easy to overlook what may seem a harmless practice, but which is actually a violation of safety regulations – such as propping doors open and locking emergency exits.

All entrances should aid free access and egress, not only for ease of passage but also in the event that emergency responders may be called to the site

Cutting out unauthorised access

All entrances should aid free access and egress, not only for ease of passage but also in the event that emergency responders may be called to the site.

With locking credentials, it’s also important to keep control of who can access the buildings so that unauthorised persons are on record. Electronic access control systems, for example, are designed for stricter security on who has access to a site and at which time it was accessed.

Electronic door access control

Furthermore, one of the biggest fallacies in the door hardware industry is that quality must be compromised to make room for affordability. Whilst this could have been put down to a lack of choice years and years ago, there are now products tailored to each and every need notwithstanding limitations such as budgets.

On top of this, it’s no use to switch out to a cheaper, less safe product that could ultimately cost more in the long-term if you’re to consider maintenance costs.

Areas such as building entrances, must balance the need for access control with accessibility and freedom of movement

The myth of ‘one size fits all’

Every school is as diverse as the people it houses. Multiple types of credentials may be used within a school, depending on your unique needs.

Particular aspects that ought to be given consideration are the severity and probability of any potential risks, the effectiveness of mitigating potential risks, the ability of staff to implement lockdown, and the school’s budget.

Areas such as building entrances, for example, must balance the need for access control with accessibility and freedom of movement.

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Virtual worlds disrupt building security & facility management
Virtual worlds disrupt building security & facility management

From satellite imagery to street views to indoor mapping, technology has disrupted our past world. This has left us dependent upon new ways to visualise large spaces. This new world has brought many benefits and risks. But what does that mean for the security professional or facility manager today and what technologies can be used to secure buildings and improve facility operations? A brief history of 3D technology Starting May 5, 2007 (inception 2001), Google rolled out Google Street View to augment Google Maps and Google Earth; documenting some of the most remote places on earth using a mix of sensors (Lidar/GSP/Radar/Imagery). The mission to map the world moved indoors May 2011 with Google Business Photos mapping indoor spaces with low cost 360° cameras under the Trusted Photographer program. In the earlier days, 3D scanning required a high level of specialisation, expensive hardware and unavailable computing power With the growth of 3D laser scanning from 2007 onwards, the professional world embraced scanning as effective method to create digitised building information modelling (BIM), growing fast since 2007. BIM from scanning brought tremendous control, time and cost savings through the design and construction process, where As-Built documentation offered an incredible way to manage large existing facilities while reducing costly site visits. In the earlier days, 3D scanning required a high level of specialisation, expensive hardware, unavailable computing power and knowledge of architectural software. Innovation during the past 8 year, have driven ease of use and lower pricing to encourage market adoption. Major investments in UAVs in 2014 and the commercial emergence of 360° photography began a new wave of adoption. While 3D scanners still range from $20K – $100K USD, UAVs can be purchased for under $1K USD and 360° cameras for as low as $100. UAVs and 360° cameras also offer a way to document large spaces in a fraction of the time of terrestrial laser scanners with very little technical knowledge.  Access to building plans, satellite imagery, Google Street View, indoor virtual tours and aerial drone reconnaissance prove effective tools to bad actors The result over the past 10+ years of technology advancement has been a faster, lower cost, more accessible way to create virtual spaces. However, the technology advances carry a major risk of misuse by bad actors at the same time. What was once reserved to military personal is now available publicly. Access to building plans, satellite imagery, Google Street View, indoor virtual tours and aerial drone reconnaissance prove effective tools to bad actors. Al Qaeda terror threats using Google Maps, 2007 UK troops hit by terrorists in Basra, 2008 Mumbai India attacks, 2016 Pakistan Pathankot airbase attacks, ISIS attacks in Syria using UAVs, well-planned US school shootings and high casualty attacks show evidence that bad actors frequently leverage these mapping technologies to plan their attacks. The weaponization of UAVs is of particular concern to the Department of Homeland Security: "We continue to face one of the most challenging threat environments since 9/11, as foreign terrorist organisations exploit the internet to inspire, enable or direct individuals already here in the homeland to commit terrorist acts."   Example comparison of reality capture on the left of BIM on the right. A $250 USD 360° camera was used for the capture in VisualPlan.net software What does this mean for the security or facility manager today? An often overlooked, but critical vulnerability to security and facility managers is relying on inaccurate drawing. Most facilities managers today work with outdated 2D plan diagrams or old blueprints which are difficult to update and share.Critical vulnerability to security and facility managers is relying on inaccurate drawing Renovations, design changes and office layout changes leave facility managers with the wrong information, and even worse is that the wrong information is shared with outside consultants who plan major projects around outdated or wrong plans. This leads to costly mistakes and increased timelines on facility projects.  Example benefits of BIM There could be evidence of a suspect water value leak which using BIM could be located and then identified in the model without physical inspection; listing a part number, model, size and manufacture. Identification of vulnerabilities can dramatically help during a building emergency. First Responders rely on facilities managers to keep them updated on building plans and they must have immediate access to important building information in the event of a critical incident. Exits and entrances, suppression equipment, access control, ventilation systems, gas and explosives, hazmat, water systems, survival equipment and many other details must be at their fingertips. In an emergency situation this can be a matter of life or death. Example benefit of reality capture First Responders rely on facilities managers to keep them updated on building plans A simple 360° walk-through can help first responders with incident preparedness if shared by the facility manager. Police, fire and EMS can visually walk the building, locating all critical features they will need knowledge of in an emergency without ever visiting the building. You don’t require construction accuracy for this type of visual sharing. This is a solution and service we offer as a company today. Reality capture is rapidly becoming the benchmark for facility documentation and the basis from which a security plan can be built. Given the appropriate software, plans can be easily updated and shared.  They can be used for design and implementation of equipment, training of personnel and virtual audits of systems or security assessments by outside professionals. Our brains process visual information thousands of times faster than text. Not only that, we are much more likely to remember it once we do see it. Reality capture can help reduce the need for physical inspections, walk-throughs and vendor site-visits but more importantly, it provides a way to visually communicate far more effectively and accurately than before. But be careful with this information. You must prevent critical information falling into the hands of bad actors. You must watch out for bad actors attempting to use reality capture as a threat, especially photo/video/drones or digital information and plans that are posted publicly. Have a security protocol to prevent and confront individuals taking photos or video on property or flying suspect drones near your facility and report to the authorities. 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UAVs have been used for transport and delivery of dangerous goods, delivering weapons and contraband and have the ability to be weaponised to carry a payload.Investigating reality capture to help with accurate planning and visualisation of facilities is well worth the time The Federal Aviation Administration has prevented UAV flights over large event stadiums, prisons and coast guard bases based on the risks they could potentially pose, but waivers do exist. Be aware that it is illegal today to use most of these technologies and downing a UAV, if you are not Department of Justice or Homeland Security, could carry hefty penalties. Facility managers must have a way to survey and monitor their buildings for threats and report suspicious UAV behaviours immediately to authorities. At the same time, it’s critical to identify various potential risks to your wider team to ensure awareness and reporting is handled effectively. Having a procedure on how identify and report is important. Investigating reality capture to help with accurate planning and visualisation of facilities is well worth the time. It can help better secure your facilities while increasing efficiencies of building operations. Reality capture can also help collaboration with first responders and outside professionals without ever having to step a foot in the door. But secure your data and have a plan for bad actors who will try to use the same technologies for nefarious goals.

Intellectual honesty: the growth of Cobalt Robotics and robots in security
Intellectual honesty: the growth of Cobalt Robotics and robots in security

The best route to greater adoption of robotics in the field of physical security is intellectual honesty, says Travis Deyle, CEO and co-founder of Cobalt Robotics. “Robots are not a panacea, so we must be clear and honest about capabilities and use cases,” he says. “If you are dishonest, people will lose faith. We must have clear expectations about what’s feasible today and possible tomorrow.” The robotics tide is turning in the security market, which is notoriously slow to embrace new technologies. “The tone has changed at recent security events,” says Deyle. “Previously, robots were thought of as a science experiment. But now, there are big-name users wanting to discuss proof of concept. It has evolved from being a novelty to now it’s time to give it a serious look. They want us to help them sell the concept up the chain of command. It’s helpful to have conversations with other parts of the company because it has an impact on the culture of the company.” The robotics tide is turning in the security market, which is notoriously slow to embrace new technologies Cobalt’s robots are purpose-built for a specific use case: providing after-hours support and security for corporate locations. Indoor environments, confined and controlled, present fewer navigation challenges for robots, which can quickly become familiar with the surroundings and navigate easily through an office space. Indoor robots can provide benefits beyond security, too, such as facility management, promoting employee health and safety, and emergency response. Cobalt's human-centred design Cobalt’s robots also interact well with people. They are friendly and approachable and make employees feel safe and secure. The human-centered design promotes that interaction, and a real person (located remotely) can enter into any interaction instantly as needed. “We combine machines with people,” says Deyle. “We allow the machine to do what it does best, such as dull and boring activities, and add the flexibility and cultural relevancy of having a person there.” Cobalt’s robots also interact well with people, they are friendly and approachable and make employees feel safe and secure When a robot is deployed, it performs a brief mapping phase (about an hour), in which it moves around and builds up a “map” of its space and develops its patrol route. Over time, it lingers more in areas where it encounters more incidents. 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It is designed to bridge the gap between guards, who are expensive and underutilised during uneventful night shifts, and cameras, which are unable to respond to nuanced situations. Cobalt Robotics already has customers in defense, finance and manufacturing, and a handful of Fortune 500 companies are looking at the service Autonomous navigation uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to avoid static and dynamic obstacles. Over time, the robot accommodates various anomalies such as loud machinery noise, and “semantic mapping” adds intelligence to its map. When the robot figures out that a picture on the wall is not a real person, for example, it stores that information for future reference.  The technologies enabling robotics in the indoor environment are mature – there have been variations of security robots in operation for decades. What has changed is the costs of the technologies, which are now inexpensive enough to make a robot affordable to businesses. 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Which segments are under-served in the physical security industry?
Which segments are under-served in the physical security industry?

Physical security technologies operate successfully in many different markets, but in which markets do they fall short? Physical security is a difficult challenge that can sometime defy the best efforts of manufacturers, integrators and end users. This is especially the case in some of the more problematic markets and applications where even the best technology has to offer may not be good enough, or could it be that the best technology has not been adequately applied? We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable to reflect on instances when the industry may fall short: Which segments of the physical security industry are most under-served and why?