The Integrator’s Best K-12 Security Practices

John Mosebar of Aiphone discusses how commercial integrators can help enhance K-12 school security.

By John Mosebar

January 08, 2016
Video intercoms, mounted outside the locked door can serve as a campus doorbell. Once a visitor pushes the intercom button requesting entry, built-in cameras provide live video on a master station located inside the office. Instant two-way audio communication is also established.

If the office receptionist, SRO or other staff member feels comfortable with the visitor, the master station can remotely open an electronic lock. Should there be any doubts about the visitor’s intentions, the door should remain locked and help should be summoned.

Many video intercoms feature wide-angle lenses with pan-tilt-and-zoom function. There are units that use coax or low voltage cable, while others require new or existing CAT-5e/6 network infrastructure and are powered via PoE (Power over Ethernet).

Some also have built-in proximity card readers allowing access-card carrying staff and screened vendors and volunteers to enter without office assistance. Additional video intercoms can be mounted at other entries, such as delivery doors.

Once inside the building, many campuses are employing vestibules – or mantraps – to contain visitors until they have been further vetted. This is where a visitor management system plays an important role. These systems require a government-issued photo ID be swiped to almost instantly check against federal, state and local criminal databases and sex offender registries.

Each campus can add its own watch list containing the names of non-custodial parents and disgruntled former employees Once cleared, the system prints a temporary photo ID and the visitor can be permitted entry into classroom areas.

These three layers – locks, video intercoms and visitor management – are among the most effective and affordable tools an integrator can offer a school and should be part of any security plan.

Other security assets

Integrators have other tools that add to the safety of staff and students. Stainless steel mesh security screens placed over glass entry doors and nearby windows provide a nearly impenetrable barrier to guns, knives, clubs and rocks. The Sandy Hook gunman entered the building by shooting out windows adjacent to the locked doors.

This is another security layer intended to at least slow a criminal’s entry into the school. Each minute that entry is delayed provides law enforcement time to respond and possibly avert an emergency.

Fencing, lighting and signage, part of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), are low-tech solutions that work. Fences and gates make it difficult to access playgrounds and other areas of a campus. They are also
effective at guiding visitors to the public entry.

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