Security isn’t easy for schools and universities. As education institutions increasingly become vulnerable targets for threats and attacks, they face the security challenges of maintaining a welcoming and open environment while ensuring the comprehensive safety of the students, teachers and staff. The balance between providing high levels of security with a certain level of convenience becomes crucial, especially when considering the large audience schools work with – the staff, administrators, students, parents and other organisations that utilise the facilities. In addition, schools are budget-conscious and must use their resources wisely. School administrators are often contacted repeatedly by organisations with multiple safety and security products 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. Data capture form to appear here! Ensuring procedures evolve There is no guarantee that what works to increase safety and security today will also work tomorrow. Because potential threats to safety and security can and do change, it is important that whatever policies, procedures and technology a school implements today can also evolve to address those changes well into the future. It is also important that schools take into account the need to distinguish among a wide variety of possible situations to ensure the appropriate people are notified and correct procedures followed. For example, the response to an active shooter situation is going to be very different from the response to a fight that occurs in a hallway. 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 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, vice president of Facility Engineering Associates, an independent school security consulting firm, acknowledges the value (and popularity) of video cameras for school security, but says that value is almost completely realised in terms of forensics – reacting after an incident rather than during or before. A second priority for school security is controlling access to the building Communications, specifically mass notification systems, are an important tool for school security, says Timm. Mass notification must be able to provide emergency information to people in the gymnasium, or on a field trip. A second priority for school security is controlling access to the building. 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. 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.
ASIS International, the world's largest association for security management professionals, today unveiled the workplace violence focused education sessions that will be featured during its 63rd ASIS International Annual Seminar and Exhibits (ASIS 2017), Sept. 25-28 in Dallas, Texas. With the U.S. Department of Labor reporting that nearly two million American workers report being victims of workplace violence—and that is just in the United States—the ability to identify, prepare for, and respond to the risk of violent incidents is paramount. ASIS 2017 has developed a program to provide best practices and education for organizations small and large. Risk of workplace violence "To demonstrate the serious and escalating nature of workplace violence, an FBI review of active shooter events between 2000 and 2013 found that over 70 percent of these incidents occur in the workplace or in an educational environment," said Eugene Ferraro, CPP, PCI, CEO, ForensicPathways, Inc. and chair of the ASIS Active Assailant: Prevention, Intervention, and Response standard initiative. "ASIS is taking a leading role in developing industry standards to address security design considerations, security protocols and response strategies, as well as the procedures for detecting, assessing, managing, and neutralising assailants. The sessions at ASIS 2017 will help any size organisation analyse its current risk positioning, and establish or enhance their workplace violence response plans." "ASIS is taking a leading role in developing industry standards to address security design considerations, security protocols and response strategies" Preparing for workplace violence A selection of the ASIS 2017 sessions open to the media that focus on helping businesses, schools, and community centers prepare for workplace violence incidents include: Corporate Security Can Prevent Domestic Violence Attacks, presented by Lynn Fairweather, President, Presage Consulting and Training, LLC Defusing Hostile People, presented by Bruce Blythe, Chairman/Crisis Management Consultant, R3 Continuum Emergency Response by Retailers in Active Shooter Incidents, presented by Alan Greggo, CPP, Regional Asset Protection Manager, Microsoft Corporation Strategies for Violent Predator Mitigation, Parts 1 and 2, presented by W. Douglas Fitzgerald, CPP, President and CEO, Fitzgerald Technology Group; Kathleen Kiernan, CEO, Kiernan Group Holdings; Michael Rehfeld, Vice President, Realistic Training Solutions, LLC; and Joseph Robinson, CPP, Senior Vice President, Fitzgerald Technology Group Workplace Bullying: Time to Grab the Problem By the Horns, presented by George Vergolias, Associate Medical Director, R3 Continuum; and Oscar Villanueva, Chief Operating Officer, TAL Global Applying Behavioral Analysis to Soft Targets, Parts 1 and 2, presented by William Martin, Principal Consultant and Trainer, Advanced Security Protection Conducting a Safe Employee Termination, presented by Jeffrey Sweetin, CPP, Executive Vice President of Operations, Athos Group Dealing with active shooter incidents Additionally, ASIS 2017 is offering a special programme on Wednesday as part of its Security Cares initiative focused on active shooter/assailant response featuring Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez. The first panel will cover the unique risks facing small/medium-sized businesses and community and cultural institutions and steps these organisations can take now to both prepare for, and respond to, an active shooter/assailant incident. Insights will spotlight the importance of a crisis management plan and the various free resources available through local law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The full panel lineup of speakers includes: "ASIS is committed to helping organisations of all sizes provide safe work environments for employees and the public at large" Kevin Doss, CPP, PSP, author Active Shooter: Preparing for and Responding to a Global Threat Michael Dailey, Chief, Outreach Programs Branch, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Infrastructure Protection, Region VI Paula Ratliff, author Crime Prevention for Houses of Worship Paul Timm, PSP, author School Security: How to Build and Strengthen a School Safety Program and president, RETA Security Sheriff Lupe Valdez, Dallas County Sheriff's Department Prevention and emergency response plans Wednesday's second session, "Preventing Violence: Developing and Testing Your Readiness Plans," focuses on having effective prevention and emergency response plans in place and includes peer-to-peer collaboration in an immersive, simulated scenario focused on testing protocols to surface vulnerabilities. "ASIS is committed to helping organisations of all sizes provide safe work environments for employees and the public at large," said Peter J. O'Neil, Executive Vice President and CEO of ASIS International. "The breadth and depth of our program this year to address this issue is second to none. Our educational lineup combined with leading solution vendors on the show floor will give business, human resources, and community leaders the information and tools they need to educate and protect their workforce."
The ASIS event will bring together local businesses, schools, hospitals & community leaders to discuss security preparedness ASIS International (ASIS), the world’s largest association for security management professionals, announced the launch of Security Week, a series of community preparedness and educational events that will be held in conjunction with the organisation’s 62nd Annual Seminar and Exhibits (ASIS 2016). Nearly 20,000 security professionals from across the globe are expected to attend ASIS 2016, which is being held Sept. 12-15, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Response to attacks Security Week, supported by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Infrastructure Protection, was developed in response to the violent attacks being carried out where citizens work, play and assemble around the world. It is designed to educate small business owners, community leaders and other organisations that have not considered themselves targets about the importance of security and preparedness in today’s evolving threat environment. The initiative will be a valuable component of the annual ASIS seminar moving forward, providing host communities with expertise on emergency planning, safety, and security. "DHS recognises that communities are the first line of defence when it comes to keeping the public safe and secure. Security Week aligns with our work to ensure the security and resilience of our critical infrastructure and our way of life,” said Caitlin Durkovich, DHS, Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection. "Recent events across the world illustrate the need to protect against these threats and mitigate the consequences. ASIS is taking a significant step in helping educate communities on possible threats and ways that organisations can takes steps to better prepare for emergencies. We are pleased to be a part of this discussion.” "ASIS is taking a significant stepin helping educate communitieson possible threats and ways thatorganisations can takes steps tobetter prepare for emergencies" “Security Week was created to help prevent the violent attacks being carried out in places where people seek to go about their lives in a peaceful manner,” said Peter O’Neil, CEO, ASIS International. “ASIS International brings together thousands of security management leaders and experts, and now we look to extend this expertise to our seminar host cities to ensure these communities are stronger and more resilient.” Preparedness and prevention community seminar Security Week kicks off with a free Preparedness and Prevention Seminar at 2 p.m., on Sunday, September 11, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Orlando. Local businesses and institutions, including houses of worship, hospitals, schools, retailers and restaurants, community leaders, law enforcement and first responders are invited to learn how to build preparedness plans, harden soft targets, and work with law enforcement and first responders. Kevin Doss, CPP, PSP, CEO of Level 4 Security, and author of Active Shooter: Preparing for and Responding to a Growing Threat, will moderate the event, which will feature speakers discussing the fundamentals of proper safety planning and risk assessment. Doss has more than 26 years of experience providing protective services in high-risk environments and currently serves as a consultant with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group, and other state and federal agencies. He is a subject matter expert on active shooters and workplace violence. Dr. Jennifer Hesterman, author of Soft Target Hardening: Protecting People From Attack, will outline strategies for addressing preparedness. Hesterman is a retired Colonel in the U.S. Air Force and is one of the few analysts specialising in the terror-crime nexus. She designs courses for federal law enforcement and security organisations, and is a senior fellow at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University. "Security Week creates a holistic approach to community actionand preparedness, and will leave our host seminar communities,as safer, more prepared environments" “Today’s threat landscape is constantly changing, and cities face risks to the safety and security of citizens every day,” Dr. Hesterman said. “Security Week aims to provide businesses and communities with a high-level view of the tools needed to prepare for possible threats, identify risks and think critically about ways to protect the public. I commend ASIS for their drive to create this initiative, and I am excited to offer insight into these efforts.” Paul Timm, PSP, President of RETA Security, and author of School Security: How to Build and Strengthen a School Safety Program, will provide insight on challenges facing educational institutions and community organisations. A nationally recognised school security expert, Timm has more than 17 years of security consulting experience and has received the Regional Certification Award from ASIS International four times. Additional activities Attendees on Sunday will receive passes to attend free educational seminars presented in the exhibit hall, September 12-14, during the Annual Seminar. Topics include active shooter response, fundamentals of a risk assessment, protecting soft targets and security guard service standards. On Wednesday, September 14, law enforcement, first responders and military personnel are invited to experience the full scope of the annual seminar at no cost. The comprehensive line-up of education programmes, demonstrations, and events enables individuals to learn about future opportunities in private industry, educate themselves on enterprise security and cyber best practices, and hear lessons learned from seasoned professionals. Security Week wraps up on Thursday with recognition of the winner of the 2016 ASIS Foundation School Security Funding Competition. This year’s honouree, Lake Brantley High School, received a $20,000 donation for security upgrades. There will be a media event at the school on Sept. 9, 2016, and the principal will be recognised at the ASIS 2016 closing lunch on September 15. “Everyone deserves a safe place to work, live and play," said David C. Davis, CPP, President, ASIS International. "Security Week creates a holistic approach to community action and preparedness, and will leave our host seminar communities, as safer, more prepared environments."
Timm typically walks through school buildings to assess vulnerabilities, and recommends systems and products As an independent school security consultant, Paul Timm of RETA Security conducts security assessments and provides technical assistance for numerous school districts throughout the United States and Canada. Timm typically walks through school buildings to assess vulnerabilities, and recommends systems and products, practices and policies, and other strategies to optimise school security. He has personally been in 500 school buildings. Security standards for schools For example, Timm just finished Phase One of a project with the state of Wyoming to document security standards for schools in the state. Timm worked under contract for the Wyoming School Facilities Department in this initiative to define and develop physical security standards for educational facilities across the state. This collaborative effort involved representatives from U.S. Homeland Security, Wyoming Department of Education, State of Wyoming Department of Fire Prevention and school districts throughout the state. The goal of this initiative was to immediately enhance current public school building security. All schools report to the state level in state capital Cheyenne, and request money from the state, and Timm is helping to create standards that all public schools in Wyoming must adhere to. Emphasis is on finding best practices and on minimum requirements to reduce risks in schools. Basic requirements – fundamentals of a safe learning environment – include communication systems to enable teachers to request assistance and locks on all the classroom doors. “Once standards begin to surface, other states start saying we should have standards,” says Timm, who sees it as a “bottom-up approach” to federal standards. Tax money spent on security comes through state grants in some instances and, in others, from an overall allocation that various schools draw from. Basic requirements – fundamentals of a safe learning environment – include communication systems to enable teachers to request assistance and locks on all the classroom doors Security consultation Timm’s current clients also include the Cook County School District 130 (Illinois), the Lincoln Public Schools (Nebraska), and the Olathe Public Schools (Kansas). Timm has assisted numerous federal Emergency Response and Crisis Management (ERCM) grant winners and Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) grant award recipients. In addition to assisting individual school districts, Timm is a nationally acclaimed conference speaker. He regularly conducts security presentations for organisations such as ASIS International, the Association of School Business Officials International, the American Association of School Administrators, and the Wisconsin School Safety Coordinators Association. He is the author of School Security: How to Build and Strengthen a School Safety Program, has appeared on numerous television and radio programs and has had school security articles published in numerous periodicals. RETA Security started in 1984 as independent school security consultants, providing security assessments and training, and assisting schools with emergency planning. (The name is an acronym for Ron Eric Timm and Associates [RETA], named for Paul Timm’s father, who founded the company.) With three full-time employees and additional contractors, RETA Security works with many school districts and also with insurance companies that cover groups of schools. Timm instructed administrators from all 55 counties in West Virginia in the need for and methods of effectively improving school access control Background Timm served as a School Security Grant Program architect for the State of West Virginia, assisting the School Building Authority of West Virginia with implementation of the “School Access Safety Act.” He was instrumental in establishing the guidelines and procedures for this statewide program. Timm instructed administrators from all 55 counties in West Virginia in the need for and methods of effectively improving school access control. He also provides Regional Educational Service Agencies and individual school districts in West Virginia with technical assistance. Upgrading school systems with latest technologies Timm is helping the Olathe, Kansas, public schools with technical assistance related to security. With 40 or so schools in their district, the system wants to make sure the high schools are “in balance” in terms of security systems such as cameras, electronic access control and communications. “We are looking at their schools to make sure we help them move from A to B to C, with continuous improvement and coordinating the effort district-wide. Technical assistance also includes upgrading from DVRs to NVRs, and consolidating on fewer product manufacturers. We’re leading them through that process and helping their architect.” All schools will soon have a secured vestibule at the front of the building to manage visitors. Timm is often amazed at the shortcomings of how technology is employed in our schools. “I still go into schools that have VCRs or they aren’t recording at all,” he says. “I see it over and over again.” "Students are ahead of us in technology; they know more than we do. You should include them in the whole safety planning dialogue, from middle school age and up" Timm sees social media as a huge problem related to school security, and a problem that many adults don’t understand. “Cyberbullying is epidemic, and student’s identities are tied to how many people like their posts. We can’t intervene because we don’t know what’s happening. If we can bridge the gap and be in that world, we can intervene much easier,” Timm says. One strategy to break through into the little-known world is for a school resource officer to build a social media profile as a 15-year-old student; as students “friend” the fake student, information that can help security becomes accessible. Schools are also using Twitter handles and other tools to communicate faster. Timm warns schools against investing in popular “after-market” products that claim to provide additional security. One such product encases the door closer to quickly secure a door from the inside during a crisis. Another is a rectangular-shaped steel plate that secures a door with the help of two steel pegs. A third is an injection-molded plastic device positioned at the bottom of a door. “These products violate fire and ADA codes. Some of them keep us from egressing a room,” says Timm. “All of them void warranties of door manufacturers.” “Schools are waking up to the fact that they should involve students in the security planning dialogue,” says Timm. “Students are ahead of us in technology; they know more than we do. You should include them in the whole safety planning dialogue, from middle school age and up.”
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.
It’s important for everyone in a high school to wear an ID Handwritten check in and check out books fail to alert the security risks posed by individuals on school campuses. Installing visitor management systems is imperative to screen and manage visitors and thereby enhance the level of safety in schools. However, it takes training and practice to use school visitor management technologies effectively. Security technologies can go a long way toward making K-12 schools safer — as long as everyone has had appropriate training in the use of those technologies and as long as everyone continues to receive appropriate refresher training. Everyone? Yes. And remember: everyone needs appropriate training. Several people need complete training. Others need some. “We have to ensure that school security technologies are used effectively in our K-12 schools,” says Paul Timm, president of Lemont, Ill.-based RETA Security, a security-consulting firm with a specialty in K-12 schools. Consider visitor management technology. More and more schools are installing visitor management systems to control who can and cannot get into the building. Visitor management begins with signs that direct visitors to a visitor’s entrance, usually the front entrance near the main office. The visitor’s entrance should provide an unlocked first door into a vestibule with another set of locked doors leading inside. How a typical visitor management system works Security technologies can go a long way toward making K-12 schools safer Timm describes how a typical visitor management system works to illustrate the kind of training the security officer or administrator managing the system will need. Schools with the main office right next to the visitor’s entrance can install a window protected by bulletproof glass. A visitor will pass his or her driver’s license through the window. If such a window is impossible, a security officer or administrator can manage visitors from inside the vestibule. If that is impossible, an intercom system with a camera will work. In each of these three scenarios, the individual managing the system will ask the visitor’s business and check the photo against the person’s face. If the photo matches, the administrator will present the ID to a reader that checks it against the sex offender registry. Importance of vigilant security administrator The administrator must also know how to enter the names of visitors that must be barred. These individuals might be a non-custodial parent, a disgruntled former staff or faculty member, a violent spouse and others that may pose some kind of security risk. If the system clears the visitor, the administrator will take an instant photo and print a visitor’s ID badge imprinted with the photo. The ID will note the visitor’s destination. IDs for everyone If you only train one person, your visitor management system will go offline when he or she calls in sick. You have to train enough people to make sure the system works throughout the day every day Timm recommends attaching the IDs to breakaway lanyards worn around the neck. “It’s important for everyone in a high school to wear an ID — teachers, students, faculty and visitors,” he says. “We recommend colour-coding the IDs so that everyone can be identified as belonging to one group or another. That’s particularly important for visitor management — if you see someone without an ID badge, you will know instantly that this is a visitor that should be directed to the check-in station.” Timm also recommends keeping the visitor’s driver’s license until the visitor checks out by returning the ID badge to the office. All round security training a must Several people per school should have the in depth training required to check visitors in and out properly, continues Timm. If you only train one person, your visitor management system will go offline when he or she calls in sick. You have to train enough people to make sure the system works throughout the day every day. Students need training, too. They must learn to tell a teacher or administrator when they see someone without an ID. Teachers and administrators also need training for managing people without ID passes. Timm recommends approaching the person and saying: Hello, how may I help you? Don’t ask, “May I help you,” says Timm, because it is too easy to brush off a yes or no question with something like: “No thanks.” “How may I help you” is a question that requires an explanation. If you don’t get one, call security. If the explanation is unacceptable, call security. If you do get an acceptable explanation, explain that visitors must wear ID badges, and escort the person to the office to get one.” The point here is that visitor management technology will help you manage and control visitors — but only if you train people to use it properly. The same is true of access control and video surveillance technology. If you train security officers, administrators, teachers and students, the technology will help make your school safer. If you don’t, the technology won’t help.
NFC can strengthen security by turning smart phones into physical and logical access control credentials The trouble with access control cards is that people lose them, lend them to friends who use the cards, or lose them, or lend them to someone else. Losing a card is bad enough, but people that lose cards often make it worse: “When someone loses an access fob or card, he or she doesn’t always tell the security department right away,” says Paul Timm, president of Lemont, Ill.-based RETA Security, Inc. “People that lose cards don’t want to pay the $20 fee for a replacement, so they look for their cards. While they are looking, whoever finds the card can use it.” To be sure, electronic access control systems provide more security, more economically, than locks and keys. When a key goes missing, a locksmith has to make an expensive trip to the affected door and rekey it. Remote computers can quickly and easily decommission lost cards. Still, decommissioning and replacing lost access cards can take up a lot of time. Enter near field communication or NFC, a mobile technology that can turn smart phones and tablets into physical and logical access control credentials, and thus strengthen security. The security improvement arises from the fact that people don’t lose their mobile devices. Think about your smart phone. If it isn’t right beside you, it’s in your pocket or the palm of your hand. “If someone loses a card, he may ask to borrow a friend’s card, and the friend may give it to him,” says Timm. “But no one would loan a smart phone to a friend.” NFC technology also forms the basis of an emerging mobile payment system “People don’t lose their phones, and people don’t lend their phones. That’s why it makes sense to look at NFC as a way to tighten security.” There’s more. NFC technology also forms the basis of an emerging mobile payment system that will enable users to charge purchasers by holding a phone up to a reader. NFC boosts security over mag-stripe credit cards and aims to overcome well-known wireless security problems by reducing the distance of the wireless communication to a couple centimeters — and encrypting the communication. Security professionals say that NFC is a good idea but needs perfecting. “It is possible to conceal a sniffer close enough to a reader to intercept NFC communications,” said Ron Lander, CPP, a principal with Norco, Calif.-based Ultrasafe Security Specialists. “Someone can attach a sniffer under the counter, for instance. How often does management check for rogue devices? They should start checking.” “I do think NFC is a good technology, but we have to develop a standard, secure infrastructure for it,” Lander adds. Still, adoption has begun. A number of colleges and universities have pilot-tested NFC as an access control and payment tool. Research shows steady growth. According to the Statista research service, the percentage of smart phone users in the United States employing NFC for mobile payments will rise to 12.7 percent this year and more than double to 27 percent by 2018. Anyone planning to install electronic access control at a facility might want to plan for the possible adoption of NFC. Same for anyone looking to refresh their current supply of access control readers. Perhaps it’s time to look into NFC-enabled access control readers. There are readers on the market that will read both NFC and traditional cards. In fact, that capability is reportedly becoming standard. Adopters will also have to work with mobile phone service providers and their trusted service managers (TSMs) to set up a system enabling employees to download unique NFC identifiers for their phones. Preparing a little each year over the next two or three years will enable companies to be ready for employees with NFC-enabled technology to start “phoning in.”
The secure inner doors of the vestibule at the front entrance of Park and River Forest High School Most school visitors have legitimate reasons for coming to school. A frightening few, however, show up with violent or other illegal intentions. Today, school security directors are actively managing visitors with secured front door vestibules and visitor management software. Oak Park and River Forest High School, a single-school district serving Oak Park and River Forest, Ill., offers an example. Director of Security and Campus Safety Randy Braverman has locked all 17 doors at the 3,300-student school for most of the day. In the morning when students arrive three of the doors are open. After the morning rush, all the doors are locked. Faculty and staff have card access privileges for all of the doors. The front doors offer access to visitors. There, Braverman has installed a multi-door secured vestibule. A set of unlocked doors lead from outside into the vestibule where another set of locked doors prevents unauthorised access to the school proper. A security station with a front counter called the Welcome Centre has been built into the right wall. All visitors must register there to gain access to the school. If someone approaches the Welcome Centre with the obvious intent of doing harm, a staffer will press a panic button under the counter. “Pressing the button automatically calls the police and activates a public address message to lock down the school,” Braverman says. Visitors must submit driver’s licenses at the Welcome Centre. “The staff scans the license using visitor management software,” Braverman says. “The software accesses a sexual predator database. If there’s a hit, I’ll get a text and come down to deal with the individual.” If the license passes the scan, welcome centre staff will talk to the visitor and make sure that he or she has a legitimate reason for visiting the school. Visitors cannot gain entry to the school without first checking in at the Welcome Center “If everything is fine, we provide a visitor’s pass with a lanyard to wear and buzz the individual in,” Braverman says. “We keep the driver’s license so that the visitor has to come back to the welcome centre before leaving.” While the rest of the school’s doors are locked from the outside, fire and life safety codes require that all school doors open from the inside. The driver’s license policy helps ensure that a visitor won’t leave through a side door with a student or after committing a crime. Just in case, however, teachers exiting through any door must swipe out with access control cards. If a door opens from the inside without a card swipe, a silent alarm goes to Braverman and the school’s security officers, who make sure that a student or visitor hasn’t left through a side door. Usually it is a teacher that has forgotten to swipe out. Secured front vestibules and locked doors have become a trend in K-12 schools, today, says Paul Timm, president of Lemont, Ill.-based RETA Security, Inc., a security consulting firm specialising in education. “Virtually everyone is moving to a secured vestibule,” he says. Visitor management software that can scan a database of registered sex offenders hasn’t yet become a trend. “While more schools are also installing visitor management software,” continues Timm, “it is prohibitively expensive for some districts — especially those with 10, 20 or more buildings.” These are now best practices for school security, Braverman says. “Imagine if someone walked in wanting to do damage or hurt people. You must lock the doors and put in a secured vestibule with a welcome area, and no visitors get into the school without checking in.”