Round table contributions
Violence in our schools and colleges often makes headlines, suggesting a growing and scary trend. A consequence of high-profile school shootings and other reports of violence is to increase awareness of the need to ensure safety and security of students, faculty and staff. The events have prompted more than one educational institution to take a second look at their security policies and infrastructure, with an eye toward improvement. But to what effect? Has greater awareness of violence in educational institutions actually led to more security? We asked this week’s Expert Panel: Are schools and universities safer today than ever before? How is technology contributing to keeping educational institutions safe?
The people element is a huge variable in the operation of any security system, and in any aspect of business for that matter. Training is a valuable tool to manage that variable, especially as it relates to newer, more complex networked physical security systems. Training can be a challenge throughout our market, which needs well-trained employees at the security front lines of our end users companies as well as competent, knowledgeable technicians handling installation and maintenance of security systems. We asked this week’s panel to reflect on the state of training in the security market, specifically on how it can be improved among integrators and/or end users.
We all like hearing about the latest and greatest technologies, but how well are we using the technologies we have? We asked our panelists to reflect on opportunities to maximise the benefits of using common technologies in the marketplace, specifically to point out ways to garner more value from existing products. Underutilising existing technology capabilities are a waste of money, aren’t they?
Articles by John Mosebar
Organisations need to protect their properties and people by securing entranceswith security systems and policies Most criminals gain access to a business or organisation the same way honest people do – they walk through a door. That door may be left unlocked. It may be propped open. Poor locks may be easily defeated or the door may be inadequately constructed and offer little resistance when attacked. Focus on multiple-layered security It seems obvious the path to securing a facility should focus hardening the entries. K-12 schools have been among the leaders in developing best practices for entry security. The plan, being used by campuses across the country, is easily repeatable by other organisations and is also very cost-effective. The goal is using multiple layers of security to protect people and property while still allowing access to employees, vendors and approved visitors. Before beginning a project – either a new installation or a retrofit – begin with a risk assessment from an experienced security consultant or system integrator. An assessment will include the surrounding neighbourhood and traffic patterns, parking lots, buildings, entries (doors and windows), roof tops, communications systems, current security equipment and plans – even landscaping. This effort is all about identifying strengths and weaknesses. A well conducted plan will help an organisation to spend its security budget more wisely. Successful security plan Then here is a look at some of the equipment successfully being used in a successful security plan. Doors – This is where it all begins. Ideally doors should be made of steel or solid core wood able to withstand being kicked or struck by crowbars or other battering devices. Glass doors, popular in many buildings, should be reinforced with stainless steel security screens or security film capable of stopping or at least delaying entry by a determined criminal. Locks -- An electromechanical lock can provide a high level of security, along with the convenience of being opened remotely. Add a keypad or card reader to allow employees, approved vendors and long-term visitors to enter. Mechanical locks with keys can be problematic. Keys can be lost, stolen or copied to end up in the hands of criminals. And then unless a door has to remain open during business hours, keep all entries locked. Video intercoms -- Video intercoms include a vandal-resistant door unit that’s mounted just outside an entry. Most units include colour cameras, a microphone and speaker for voice communication and a call button that acts as a video “doorbell.” The unit is connected to a master station with a high-resolution monitor that typically sit on the desk of a receptionist of security guard. Sitting behind the safety of a locked door, an employee can make the decision to remotely unlock the entry and allow access for the visitor. Video intercoms are also useful at other entries, including a delivery bay or an interior door to executive offices. Extra units can be tied to the same master station to provide centralised control of all entry requests. Installing most units is easy and involves only two wires. Some units are IP-addressable and directly connect to a network using CAT-5e/6 cable. They can also use Power over Ethernet (PoE) or an external 24v DC power supply. Security equipment such as doors, locks and intercoms should be deployedto protect entrances against intruders whilst to allowing access to approved visitors Entry vestibules – Many organisations are choosing to construct a vestibule – or mantrap – just inside the main entry. That leaves one final locked door before the visitor has access to offices, classrooms or other parts of a facility. Visitor management systems – While still in the vestibule, a visitor can be required to produce a government-issued photo ID which is swiped through a visitor management system. Within seconds, the person’s name is checked against federal and state databases and the national sex offender registry. Organisations can also set up their own databases to watch for individuals such as disgruntled former employees or those with a restraining order involving a current worker. These systems can the print a temporary ID badge to be worn while on the premises. At this point, the final door can be remotely unlocked. The entire entry process shouldn’t take more than a minute or two to complete and provides significant, cost-effective layers of security at the entrance. Audio intercoms, and the video version, placed at a parking lot gate can provide information used to allow or reject an access request before the person even gets to the main facility. Audio intercoms also allow communication between offices during emergencies to provide specific commands such as lock in place or evacuate to a safer location. Policies and procedures Even the best security plan can be undone if employees don’t follow policies. Today’s best practices call for all doors not in use to be locked at all times. If possible, there should be a single public entry. Employees responsible for allowing access need guidelines for allowing or rejecting visitor access requests. These policies, along with other security-related rules, should be put into writing and then practiced during regular drills. Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design – CPTED offers other low-cost opportunities to control entry access. Trees and bushes can provide a hiding place for weapons, contraband and people seeking to piggyback into a facility with an approved visitor. Foliage needs to be trimmed regularly. Bright lighting help identify approaching visitors on dark winter afternoons and is a deterrent to vandals and other criminals at night. Fencing and gates should be used to control pedestrian traffic patterns. Used from the parking lot, these barriers can funnel visitors to the correct public entry. Signage helps direct visitors and then educate them about the entry process. It’s no longer reasonable to postpone protecting people and property. These systems and polices are very affordable, easy to install and operate. And they have been proven many times to be effective at hardening entries. And with today’s generally tight security budgets the goal is all about doing more for less.
Grants continue to be available for schools to purchase products such as our intercoms and communication systems 2014/2015 Aiphone Review and Forecast: Video surveillance, audio, access control and locks are the four security solutions that typically work together as part of an overall security plan. Demand for video may have been the prime driver, but 2014 was a solid year for each of these solutions as the economy improved noticeably. Also, federal and state governments made large numbers of grants available that helped to improve sales, particularly in the education and healthcare markets. Generally I expect to see the good overall industry growth rates for 2014 continuing into the New Year. One recent growth trend is in the residential area, where owners and managers of both multi- and single-family units are looking to take advantage of the smaller, less expensive and easier-to-operate security components being offered by the industry. Also, as the Baby Boomer generation continues to age, there will be a greater demand for retirement homes and assisted-living facilities. These housing options will require many of the basic security solutions to protect the facilities and the residents. Also, critical government infrastructure — things such as bridges, utility plants, water facilities, for example – continue to be potential targets for terrorists and will require security equipment at the federal, state and local levels. Following the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, many school districts moved rapidly to purchase security products. That resulted in a very successful 2013 for Aiphone. Last year, we found school boards being more deliberate in their planning and spending, yet it was still a successful year. We expect more of the same in 2015 as we have a product line that is ideal for use on K-12 campuses. Also a number of grants continue to be available for schools to purchase products such as our intercoms and communication systems. In 2015, we will be working to bring new IP-compatible devices to market, as well as to expand our mobile connectivity. While there are still challenges in some regions and vertical markets, there is cause for optimism in 2015. Education and healthcare will continue to lead the way for many equipment and service providers. And the housing market may open some new opportunities as well. See the full coverage of 2014/2015 Review and Forecast articles here
Security cameras provide live, real-time videoto assist security personnel in spottingpotential or real problems Efficient security systems for parking structures deter criminal activities and anti-social elements from destroying property. Over the years, security companies have responded to this need and developed a range of security systems for parking facilities, such as audio intercoms, access cards and video analytic solutions. Systems integrators who want to add new services should consider the viability of protecting parking structures. Not only do these areas include a range of commercial and residential vertical markets, but they provide the opportunity to deploy a diverse range of integrated technologies. Parking lots and garages are notorious for criminal activity. According to the latest U.S. Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, parking facilities constitute more than 7 percent of the nation’s violent victimisations and more than 11 percent of property crimes. Assessing security risks All this comes as the parking industry moves toward automated, unmanned lots and structures. As these facility operators cut manpower, they are looking for new security solutions to protect patrons and property. The extent of this need is supported by surveys that show that one-third of drivers cite security as a major factor in choosing where to park their vehicles. Because parking facilities vary widely in size, type and location, it’s impossible to design a one-size-fits-all security solution, says John Mosebar, Vice President of Marketing for Aiphone Corp., Bellevue, Washington. But there are certain best practices that apply to all facilities, he says. “Any security plan should begin with an all-hazards assessment to identify a facility’s strengths and weaknesses,” says Mosebar, who is a 32-year veteran of the security video intercoms manufacturer. An experienced security integrator can conduct the review and present a viable and attainable plan to address short- and long-term spending priorities. Mosebar lists the following security tools that have proven to be effective in parking facilities: Audio intercoms "Any security plan should beginwith an all-hazards assessmentto identify a facility’s strengthsand weaknesses," says JohnMosebar, VP of Marketing,Aiphone Corp They provide instant two-way communication to a security guard or facility operator when built into all-ticket dispensing and revenue control systems. Intercoms are valuable in both emergencies and equipment failures. Emergency stations Emergency towers or wall-mount boxes offer immediate audio assistance to visitors and help operators assess emergencies. Some units are equipped with built-in cameras and can be integrated with an existing video surveillance system. These stations should be brightly lit, making them easy to locate while serving as a criminal deterrent. Access control Access cards provide monthly parkers the ability to open special entry and exit lanes. They limit pedestrian entries to the entry/exit gates and one other entry. There’s also the possibility to lock all other access points to the outside and install a keypad or card reader. That too saves rekeying costs whenever keys are lost or stolen. Video surveillance Security cameras provide live, real-time video to assist security personnel in spotting potential or real problems and take action before incidents escalate. Cameras should be capable of providing clear video under varying light conditions, especially in outdoor lots. Cameras can be a major criminal deterrent, so they should be easy to spot. Mosebar suggests painting them a bright colour and including a monitor displaying a live feed at all entries while using signage to announce the facility is under video surveillance 24/7. "Facility operators need to createsafe and secure lots and garages.The result will be a facility filledwith honest patrons, providingone more reason for criminalsto look elsewhere for targets" Realistically, few parking operators can afford a dedicated monitoring staff. Recorded video provides evidence to resolve assaults, theft, accident reports and other liability issues. Consider recording continuously during the day when the facility is busy. At night or other quiet times use motion detectors or edge analytics built into the cameras to trigger recording. Video analytics Many parking facility operators add analytics to their camera/recording systems. License plate recognition (LPR) software is one of the most common. LPR is used to detect vehicles and count cars as they enter and exit. By linking a credit card to a license plate number, monthly parkers could eliminate the need for a physical credential. Even pedestrian safety could be improved by not permitting gates to lower when a person is standing in its path. Analytics can also notify operators of cars that may be abandoned, improperly parked or moving in the wrong direction. Mosebar adds that once in place, all security equipment should be tested monthly. That also presents a viable plan for service and maintenance contracts and additional recurring monthly revenue. “Rather than notifying patrons to park at their own risk, facility operators need to create safe and secure lots and garages. The result will be a facility filled with honest patrons, providing one more reason for criminals to look elsewhere for targets,” Mosebar says.
Beyond the need to install new systems, often overlooked is how schools are going to pay for security upgrades Limited financial resources are a common pain point for primary/secondary schools looking to implement cutting-edge security technology. But security needs persist despite scarce resources. All school administrators want to do everything in their power to secure their facilities against threats. More schools are recognising the benefits and, in some cases, requirement of upgrading systems to meet evolving threats. The solution is to find creative, cost-effective ways to support these installations. Aiming maximum security amidst fund scarcity Schools need maximum security and yet they have to work with limited budgets, says Andrew Schonzeit, CEO of integrator Idesco. “There certainly is a demand to enhance school safety, but to do so, schools have to look at the bigger picture and think in terms of solutions,” he adds. Integrators like Idesco can help by providing integrated security solutions that cover all their needs from ID cards to access systems and security cameras. “Many schools might think that they cannot afford such a solution, but with the latest technologies, they certainly can,” Schonzeit says. “I believe technology is being underutilised in primary/secondary schools because many schools feel intimidated by solutions. I think the security industry has come a very long way in development of apps for smart phones and iPad devices that are essentially one or two clicks. It is up to security integrators to provide powerful tools that customers feel very comfortable to use.” Choosing the right technology IP access control brings costs down by eliminating panels, excess wiring, and third party electricity at each door The Department of Homeland Security makes grants and funds available to schools for security upgrades and to address school vulnerabilities, Schonzeit says. The primary/secondary education market should be taking advantage more of the technology that is available right now. Schools are starting to have a very strong network infrastructure backbone, which is a resource schools should be looking at to assist them in terms of implementing a solution. Schools should also try to maximise the use of mobile devices to control access to their premises and to intervene quickly in case of an emergency, Schonzeit says. One way to use the network backbone is by adding IP access control, which brings costs down by eliminating panels, excess wiring, and third party electricity at each door. This means that more doors, in existing buildings, can be protected on a tight budget. Isonas, a provider of IP access control, has very close integration with both Video Insight and Milestone video management systems. Isonas feeds access control data to each of these video platforms, allowing them to be the command/control for both access control and video. “As budgets are tight, few districts can afford to put access control across an entire district at one time,” says Rob Mossman, CEO of Isonas. “The integration and the Pure IP structure means that a district can roll in access control school by school without having to manage two separate software packages during the expansion.” Beyond the need to install new systems, often overlooked is how schools are going to pay for security upgrades. At times, it is a matter of school boards making the tough choice to place a higher priority on security measures than other worthwhile programs competing for funding, says John Mosebar, vice president, marketing, Aiphone Corp., a manufacturer of audio and video intercoms. "I believe technology is being underutilised in primary/secondary schools because many schools feel intimidated by solutions. I think the security industry has come a very long way in development of apps for smart phones and iPad devices that are essentially one or two clicks" Recognising government grants Also, the federal government, most states, and private organisations offer many grants to pay for some portion of school security, Mosebar says. But often these grants are not well publicised, making it difficult especially for smaller districts without dedicated grant personnel to apply. This is an area where the security industry – through one of its organisations – could step up to research the various grant offerings and make them available through one website. “It would be a tremendous public service,” says Mosebar. Prioritising security requirements Partially in response to cost challenges, implementing electronic access control in phases is more common in schools than other environments. Schools and districts decide the most critical openings from a security and traffic flow perspective, and prioritise them first, according to Allegion. Priority lists vary among schools, but most start with the perimeter so they can lock down a facility and keep intruders out. Some schools look at crime statistics and prioritise schools by location, starting first with those in the highest crime areas, adds Minu Youngkin, Allegion vertical marketing manager. Others look at traffic flow and determine which openings are most problematic, or put them at the greatest risk, and add access control to those first, says Youngkin. Greater system functionality is another aspect of costs. A key opportunity for security technology in primary/secondary schools is creating more automated systems that lessen or eliminate human delay in response and notification, says Bruce Montgomery, Business Development Manager, Honeywell. Creating an automated “If this, then what?” protocol streamlines a school’s approach to violence and improves response time. A one-button approach – where only one action is required to notify teachers, students and police, trigger a lockdown and provide video surveillance and campus access to law enforcement – is ideal for managing the broad range of communication and logistical challenges in the event of an emergency.
Integrators must understand that the primary/secondary education market has a unique and urgent need for access control, but with limited budgets Systems integrators play a key role delivering effective security solutions to the kindergarten through 12th grade (primary/secondary) education market. Schools certainly depend on an integrator’s expertise regarding which electronic products to choose. However, schools also rely the benefit of an integrator’s experience and the insight gained by putting security practices in action on a daily basis. “Schools need integrators who can help them solve problems by performing overall risk assessment and work within their budget to meet their needs,” says Minu Youngkin, Allegion vertical marketing manager. Forming relationships with school superintendents is one route for integrators into the education market, says Youngkin. However, integrators should also form relationships with other stakeholders, such as architects, general contractors, manufacturers and independent security advisors. Youngkin advises integrators to “follow the money trail.” They should know which districts have bond money and the goals set forth in the bond effort. Integrators can also help districts with grants such as a federal Department of Education hardware grant or a Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) grant. Helping districts write grant applications builds goodwill even if the grant request is unsuccessful. An understanding of the mechanical hardware (as well as the electronics) is foundational to success, says Youngkin. “You have to understand a door opening’s solution in its entirety. In schools, that typically includes a fair amount of mechanical hardware based on how the building is being used as well as Fire Life Safety Codes that dictate the type of hardware you use on certain openings.” New technologies expand integrator’s role Historically speaking, the primary/secondary school security market often has been driven by low bids with very basic security technology requirements, says Sean McGrath, vice president of marketing and business development, ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions. As heightened security needs have taken center stage within school systems, the emergence and benefits of security technology innovation such as wireless and power over Ethernet intelligent access control locks, IP video and emergency communication systems are expanding the integrator’s role, which is becoming increasingly more important in creating secure environments. Integrators servicing the primary/secondary education market should be proactively involved with the local committees responsible for defining a school system’s security objectives during the pre-construction phase, says McGrath. In those cases where a school system does not have the budgetary flexibility to hire a professional security consultant to act on their behalf, they will openly embrace the education that many security integrators can provide. The end user community will benefit greatly from integrators taking a consultative approach – not a sales approach – in assisting them to find a balance between the school system’s budgetary framework and its security objectives. It is also important for the end user community to understand the value of a long-term preventative service plan for critical security technology implementation and to budget accordingly post-construction, says McGrath. Look to solve problems, not design systems School security consultant Paul Timm, president of RETA Security, says schools are getting away from relying on integrators to design systems. More often, integrators are asked to solve problems rather than design systems. He says integrators should be solution-oriented and part of a collaborative team that includes the architect, door hardware people and outside consultants. “Administrators are looking for someone they can trust,” he says. Many primary/secondary education districts lack an experienced security director on premises. In those cases, administrators typically seek out a local security integrator to provide guidance in developing a programme Integrators can also help to identify funding sources, says Timm. “If integrators were aware of grant programmes, that would help schools. Any resources you can bring as an integrator can help.” Knowledge of government or foundation grants, money available from manufacturers such as US Cellular, and other funding sources can be helpful to school systems. “Most schools have no idea of what’s available unless it’s a big statewide programme,” he says. Many primary/secondary education districts lack an experienced security director on premises. In those cases, administrators typically seek out a local security integrator to provide guidance in developing a programme, says John Mosebar, vice president, marketing, Aiphone Corp., manufacturer of audio and video intercoms. This is an opportunity for security professionals to maximise their value by providing the equipment and services each campus needs. The integrator can also help with training on equipment as well as assist in setting policies and procedures for the security function, he says. Take a consultative, solution-based approach Security integrators must address the primary/secondary education market with a consultative, solutions-based approach, says Bruce Montgomery, Business Development Manager, Honeywell. A pitfall can be assuming that all schools face the same challenges and that one previously successful system can be duplicated in its entirety for another school. “Previous incidents and installations should be studied and referenced to provide proven solutions for managing crisis situations, but it is crucial to couple research and knowledge of previous installations with an open mind to seek out the unique security challenges of a particular school,” says Montgomery. “At Honeywell, our research has indicated that using one integrated family of products improves not only ease of installation but, more importantly for the school districts, a unified platform for improved user experience. “ Integrators must understand that the primary/secondary education market has a unique and urgent need for access control, and they have limited budgets, says Rob Mossman, CEO of Isonas. Superintendents have many constituents to satisfy, from parents to state governments. They have limited time windows for installation, and little room for error. IP cameras expanded quickly into primary/secondary education due to the simplicity and cost savings of IP architecture. An integrator must be savvy to provide solutions that build off existing hardware and software systems, rather than rip and replace. Small legacy systems often need to be taken over, and new doors need to be added. Pure IP access control provides the unique flexibility, speed, cost savings and open architecture that work perfectly in primary/secondary education, says Mossman. Security integrators must address the primary/secondary education market with a consultative, solutions-based approach Youngkin of Allegion lists some other ways integrators can foster relationships with education clients: Apply to be listed on a state’s buying cooperative associations. Schools prefer working through these entities because it eases the procurement process and saves time. Attend school association events, networking, industry trade shows. Donate money to a bond campaign. Develop manufacturer partnerships and leverage the training they provide. Help develop a plan and budget that allow schools to consider all the scenarios they face or could potentially face, and put the right resources in place to ensure the best possible outcome. Youngkin also suggests several questions to ask education clients to direct the security conversation: Do you have an emergency/crisis management plan? Who manages the security system? How do you communicate to staff and teachers in the event of an emergency? How do you move through the building on a daily basis (including after school and on weekends)? Do you practice lockdowns? How does a lockdown work? Are there different levels (i.e., lockout versus lockdown)? How long does it take to lock down? How do you react based on different times of the day (i.e., recess)? What are your goals?
Readily available security technology can help officials take control of their campuses Two top priorities for school security are the ability to communicate within a facility, and the ability to control access of who comes and goes. Paul Timm, president of RETA Security, an independent school security consulting firm, acknowledges the value (and popularity) of video cameras for school security, but that value is almost completely realised in terms of forensics – reacting after an incident rather than during or before. “Electronic access control and communication systems are more proactive and preventive,” he says. Need for effective communication tools Communications, specifically mass notification systems, are an important tool for school security, says Timm. “We have to make sure we have comprehensive coverage, meaning, can a staff member always have access to some kind of system that can get help, and provide information in an emergency?” Mass notification must be able to provide emergency information to people in the gymnasium, or on a field trip. “How do I get in touch with everyone in an emergency?” asks Timm. “Integrators are unveiling new things all the time.” Timm cautions against depending on a common communication tool, especially among student populations – the cell phone. “Almost never will I allow a personal cellular phone as a primary means of communication. It may not be charged; they may not be getting a signal. They’re notoriously unreliable.” Providing emergency pendants to faculty is one option, Timm says. Alerting via audio intercoms See bigger image The use of audio intercoms provides immediate communications between campus administrators and classrooms, says John Mosebar, vice president, marketing, Aiphone Corp. The school office can simultaneously alert all teachers to provide specific commands such as lockdown or evacuate to a safer location. Teachers can also use the intercom system to contact the office for emergencies that originate in the classroom. Role of visitor management systems A second priority for school security is controlling access to the building. “How do we approve someone before they gain entrance into the entire building?” asks Timm. “What are the visitor management systems, and how do we make sure we are securing and restricting access to the building and also to the specific parts of the building?” In terms of “one button” lockdown systems, there are huge opportunities, he says: “The sky is the limit if you have funding.” However, a downside to one-button lockdown is the possibility that a teacher or group of students would be in the hallway at the time of the lockdown and unable to get safely back into the classroom. Intercoms – video and audio – provide valuable layers of security for primary/secondary education campuses, says Mosebar. Think of video intercoms as a campus video doorbell. All visitors – parents, vendors, and even late-arriving students – have to request entry. School personnel then get to see and speak with the person before remotely unlocking the door. If there is any doubt, the door remains locked. By placing a video intercom at each campus entry – from the front door to the delivery dock – doors remain locked throughout the day, providing an effective barrier and greater security for students and staff. Security begins at the entrance Many school administrators now realise that campus security begins at the main entrance, says Mosebar. Without control of the entry, visitors may have unchecked access to classrooms and students. However, there is no one technology, product or service by itself that offers total entrance protection. A successful security plan makes use of layers of various technologies. Layered security Schools seem to be getting that message. When it comes to protecting the entry, a video intercom, mounted just outside the main door, is a key component allowing two-way voice-and-video identification with visitors. But a video intercom works best in conjunction with other complementary products including remote-controlled locks that allow staff to admit visitors while safely sitting behind locked doors. Security screens made of stainless steel mesh deter criminals willing to break door glass or adjacent windows to enter. Just inside the main door, an entry vestibule allows visitors immediate access only to the office and not classrooms. Also, a visitor management system helps keep track of visitors and identifies registered sex offenders and others with outstanding felony warrants. Together, these components comprise an affordable solution that can be repeated easily across campuses of different age, design, size and use, says Mosebar. By placing a video intercom at each campus entry – from the front door to the delivery dock – doors remain locked throughout the day, providing an effective barrier and greater security for students and staff. Readily available security technology can help officials take control of their campuses. The number of schools with open doors and without video intercoms or other surveillance cameras is becoming fewer in number. “It’s not as much a matter of security technology being underutilised, but rather if it is being used properly and cost-effectively,” Mosebar says. Do more with less The object of any solution is to eliminate or delay entry of an assailant long enough for police to respond and for school administrators to communicate with teachers and campus staff so they can lock down their classrooms or evacuate, depending on the situation. “Making sure the system is functioning and tested is the best practice to be prepare in case a situation arises,” says Mike Troiani, service manager for Idesco, a security integrator in the Tri-State area (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut). “Schools have lots of moving parts; they are always asked to do more with less.” Isonas PowerNet reader/controller IP access control systems are now finding their way into the education market, including the Isonas pure IP access control system. The Isonas solution eliminates all dedicated wiring and control panels by moving the technology into a single 1x6-inch reader/control at the door. Power is delivered to the reader/controller and to the electric strike or mag lock via power over Ethernet (PoE). Costs are dramatically reduced because no other electricity is needed at the door; the only wiring is Cat-5 Ethernet cable. The Isonas PowerNet reader/controller has the ability to hold 64,000 credentials, 5,000 events and 32 different time schedules. A school, or an entire district, can program permissions centrally and push the data to the reader/controllers at the edge. If the network goes down, the access control system does not fail because all decision-making can be made by the reader/controller. The result is an access control system that is 30 percent less expensive, deployed more quickly, with more flexibility than traditional panel systems.
School administrators are now choosing products that make the biggest, long-term impact on campus security Well-publicised events such as the U.S. school shootings at Columbine and Sandy Hook lead to an increased demand of security equipment to protect kindergarten through 12th grade (primary/secondary) education campuses. But do they also result in buying decisions made on impulse that don’t necessarily meet a school’s most pressing security needs? Increase in demand for security systems In the immediate aftermath of the December 2012 Sandy hook massacre, for example, many security manufacturers saw significant interest in their solutions. Through 2014, that momentum slowed somewhat as school administrators became more deliberative in their selections, choosing products that made the biggest, long-term impact on campus security, says John Mosebar, Vice President, Marketing, Aiphone Corp. Planning cost-effective school security “Mass shootings put public pressure on school officials to act quickly to deter active shooters on their campuses,” says school security consultant Paul Timm, president of RETA Security. But in reality, these shootings are still relatively rare. Schools need to be prepared for the everyday events that cause problems and put a strain on tight budgets, he says. Those events include burglary, vandalism, gangs and drug sales. Electronic security products can help reduce these incidents. “There’s always value to increased awareness,” says Timm. “Sometimes there’s a kneejerk reaction – let’s install bulletproof glass – but wouldn’t we rather have some improvement in safety measures than no improvement? Hardly ever it is a totally wasted expenditure, but we’re trying to educate people to have a holistic, balanced approach.” That’s where professional integrators and risk assessments play an important role. “Here’s what I tell schools,” says Timm. “I’m not focused on the active shooter. I want to help you with the emergency of an active shooter, but don’t forget your environmental emergency plans (such as tornadoes). We’re always more concerned about what puts people in danger, such as lack of access control, which is relevant to an active shooter, or domestic violence or a mentally ill person. I think there’s an overemphasis on active shooter.” Preparing for a security breach Timm compares being prepared for a security breach to the importance of holding fire drills in the school environment. The dangers of fire in educational environments first became top-of-mind some 54 years ago after fire broke out in the Our Lady of the Angels Catholic School in Chicago, Ill. A total of 92 pupils and three nuns could not escape and died from smoke, heat, fire and toxic gases. As a result of the tragedy, today every school does fire drills and has fire systems. "We prepared the kids,” says Timm. “We should prepare people for acts of violence, just as we prepare them for fires or weather emergencies. There's too much violence to say we shouldn't run some drills." Integrating surveillance with access control and intrusion systems in combination with physical deterrents such as laminate on windows and bulletproof mantraps as well as rigorous personnel training drastically improves the likelihood of a positive outcome stemming from an incident Employing various security technologies for a safe educational environment School shootings are devastating to the students, faculty and community, says Bruce Montgomery, Business Development Manager, Honeywell. “I would hope it wouldn’t take an awful incident to prompt administrators to make improvements,” he comments. “That said, many schools have benefitted from taking more precautions, as there unfortunately still are many schools lacking adequate security. Many schools, for instance, have installed surveillance cameras for security purposes. But cameras alone aren’t enough to prevent an incident. Integrating surveillance with access control and intrusion systems in combination with physical deterrents such as laminate on windows and bulletproof mantraps as well as rigorous personnel training drastically improves the likelihood of a positive outcome stemming from an incident.” Anytime there is a school tragedy, the security and safety of the facility gets plenty of attention, says Andrew Schonzeit, CEO of Idesco, a security integrator. “I think when something happens, facilities become reactionary to what they believe they need to make them more secure, or feel more secure,” he says. ”Schools might implement their own internal lockdown drills and then, after a few weeks, there is a return to a sense of normalcy.” Unfortunately, it takes a tragedy to gain awareness, but that should not be, says Schonzeit. Primary/secondary education facilities should have a revolving three-year security plan that involves assessments, costs and a schedule for implementation, he says. “With each of these events comes the realisation that an incident can happen anywhere,” says Sean McGrath, vice president of marketing and business development, ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions. “So in that sense, they are a wake-up call and spur quick action from schools that have put off security reviews. In this rush to action, some administrators make the mistake of not considering a holistic approach to security. They may install a few new products without first completing an audit of their facility and carefully researching all available options.” That’s a mistake.
Schools are unlike commercial buildings or other facilities in several ways, and the differences impact how they should be secured. For one thing, the inhabitants are mainly children and won’t carry card credentials. Also, schools have distinct traffic flows and are open all hours of the day for after-school activities and evening and weekend usage. “Security solutions must take into account this flexible and fluid schedule,” says Minu Youngkin, vertical marketing manager, Allegion. Also, schools tend to have a longer selling cycle – typically an average of 18 months, Youngkin adds. The sales process is also more complex and involves multiple stakeholders. Other considerations include propped doors, multiple visitors, high staff turnover and competing budgets. Each school presents its own unique challenges The changing education environment is also among the unique challenges of the primary/secondary education marketplace. “I think the typical classroom setting is long gone,” says Andrew Schonzeit, CEO of Idesco, a security integrator. “Every school is unique and should be treated as such; you may have to alter your installation schedule to not interfere with the day-to-day flow of the school schedule.” For example, there are technical schools available in the 9-12 grade range, and many schools now offer co-teaching classrooms for children on the autism/Asperger’s spectrum. “Ultimately, you want to provide a solution that is driven by the needs of the client,” adds Schonzeit. Another important point is that the needs of all primary/secondary schools evolve very quickly and from one year to the other, their security requirements might change. As an integrator, it is essential to anticipate these changes and provide each school with a scalable solution that can be adapted at any time, says Schonzeit. Primary/secondary school security is different from other types of installs, agrees Rob Mossman, CEO of Isonas, an IP access control company. The motivations in primary/secondary schools are different and more urgent. The windows of time for installation are tighter. Buildings are often older and budgets are tighter. He says IP technology provides a solution for primary/secondary schools because the flexibility and cost savings fit these unique problems. Upgrading basic school security Reducing costs by improving system efficiency is not a new concept, but with growing interconnectivity of formerly disparate building systems, the opportunity to leverage connected upgrades may continue to gain ground Schools are beginning to rethink the basics, adds John Mosebar, vice president, marketing, Aiphone Corp., a manufacturer of audio and video intercoms. That trend will result in taller and stronger fencing to protect campuses, for example. More lighting will illuminate schools at night. And CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) principles will guide building design and landscaping to maximize security benefits. From advanced video management systems integrated with access control authorisation technology to intrusion sensors linked to email and text message notification, true end-to-end solutions can be tailored to meet the unique needs of each education installation, says Bruce Montgomery, business development manager, Honeywell. Native integration between access control, video and intrusion products and services streamlines the user experience, providing one unified platform at a cost-effective price point, he adds. The primary/secondary school market is also increasingly interested in security features combined with or complemented by automation features, says Montgomery. As schools revamp their systems to improve and integrate intrusion, access and video systems, there is an opportunity to present additional lifestyle enhancements, such as lighting and HVAC control, that improve ease-of-use while simultaneously reducing costs and easing environmental burden. Reducing costs by improving system efficiency is not a new concept, but with growing interconnectivity of formerly disparate building systems, the opportunity to leverage connected upgrades may continue to gain ground among this group of customers. ASSA ABLOY’s smart door opening solutions ASSA ABLOY provides all the components to create door opening solutions that meet the needs of any end user application – doors, frames, locks, hardware, gasketing, door controls, electronic access control devices and key systems. By bringing all these doorway components together, ASSA ABLOY is able to create solutions that address common security challenges. For schools, these challenges include the obvious like classroom and perimeter security, durability and reliability. Then there are the not-so-obvious factors, such as noise abatement, energy efficiency and sustainability, storm shelter requirements (depending on geography) and accessibility needs. ASSA ABLOY Group brands work together to create door opening solutions that address all these school-related issues. New locking and access control innovations are filling the technological void that occupied the realm of medium security doors, says ASSA ABLOY. Long trapped in a vacuum between high- and low-security openings, medium security is now filled with electronic locking solutions that secure doorways without draining budgets. The void was the result of a technology gap that left facilities with a difficult choice – protect the assets behind these doorways with simple mechanical locks or over-secure the openings with costly hardwired devices. There was no continuum of technologies to bridge the gap between high- and low-security openings. Electronic locks have now evolved to the point where it’s possible to examine every opening in a facility and customize the level of security needed for each door. The motivations in primary/secondary schools are different and more urgent. The windows of time forinstallation are tighter. Buildingsare often older and budgetsare tighter Wireless access control locks Today’s wireless access control locks are making it possible to implement online access control on any facility doorway, even if it’s in a remote part of the school. This will give administrators better control over all facility doorways without having to run expensive wiring and making other infrastructure improvements. Impact of sustainability Sustainability is another big issue that impacts security of schools. Buildings that want to improve energy efficiency can now choose an access control solution that consumes up to 97 percent less power than previous generations of technology, says Sean McGrath, vice president of marketing and business development, ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions. Product transparency is another hot sustainability-related topic. May new construction projects will only consider products that have Health Product or Environmental Product Declarations that list material ingredients and their potential health impact.