EXCLUSIVE: A holistic approach to staff and student safety

ICT - staff and student safety

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James Ensten, Vice President of Sales at Integrated Control Technology (ICT) advocates for a unified security solution that improves faculty and student safety for a better educational environment.

Staff and student safety

In today’s unpredictable world, the safety of educational facilities is a top priority.

However, many schools and institutions face critical challenges when it comes to quick and seamless building lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders for staff and student safety.

Surprisingly, over 61% of K-12 schools and universities take more than six minutes to initiate a lockdown, while active-shooter events typically last less than five minutes.

The culprit? Complex and outdated security systems that lack integration and don’t work together.

With 70% of sites struggling to find staff who know how to manage the system, the need for a comprehensive, unified security solution that enhances staff and student safety has never been more evident.

Unify and simplify

Existing security infrastructure often consists of rudimentary video surveillance, insecure access control with physical keys and outdated credentials, aging alarm systems and no capability for instant lockdowns.

The lack of integration among access control, intrusion alarms and video management systems adds complexity to security management and impedes timely responses during emergencies.

To address these challenges and enhance student safety, educational institutions are increasingly seeking out unified, enterprise solutions that can be tailored to their specific requirements.

Systems that are also future-proof allow the flexibility to scale and accommodate advancements in security technologies.

“The advantages of unifying access control and intruder detection into a single platform are obvious.

It has simplified design, increased user friendliness, decreased service issues and improved situational awareness for campus security,” John Molnar, Access Services Manager at The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, said.

Feature-rich, out of the box

Many educational facilities have specific needs that include restricting access to staff and students, while still allowing the use of facilities after-hours for basketball practice in the gym or a local community group that meets in the auditorium.

Some systems have in-built capability thanks to features which can be programmed to override schedules for a specified length of time – allowing nominated internal doors to be free access and/or lighting to be activated outside normal hours.

Additional features can help to fulfill high security requirements and improve staff and student safety.

Anti-passback can keep restricted areas secure and allow you to know the precise whereabouts of personnel, with accurate area counting or muster reporting in an emergency.

You can partition a campus into smaller sections with multiple area support, then use area groups so that users can control their own areas and arm alarms with one press at a keypad.

Lockdowns that work

Everyone is acutely aware that emergency situations arise without warning that can reduce staff and student safety.

Many systems are difficult or slow to lockdown (if they even have that functionality); therefore what’s required is a door lockdown solution that is simple to setup, doesn’t require annual subscription and that actually works.

Built-in door lockdown functions allow you to lockdown a single door, certain areas or the whole site – to quickly restrict entry, exit or all access at the touch of a button and increase student safety.

This can be triggered by just about anything, but typically emergency lockdown buttons are placed at strategic places around the site or are wireless pendants worn by staff that connect to the security system.

Besides enabling an effective lockdown, the other key consideration is allowing free movement for first responders – usually setup as super users which overrides these lockdown settings.

Welcome results in Wink

For Wink-Loving Independent School District (ISD) in Wink, TX, ICT Partner and local integrator DAC Inc. helps community, faculty and student safety.

With 348 doors connected to ICT’s Protege GX, everything except the bathrooms is secured.

It covers the elementary, junior high and high schools, fitness center, band rooms and press boxes at the football, softball and baseball fields – even the Future Farmers of America (FFA) show barn facility for swine, steer and lambs.

With connected doors, statuses are available for every external and classroom door.

So, in the event of a lockdown, administrators can see that all the doors are shut and everything is locked for staff and student safety.

Thanks to the flexibility of door lockdowns in Protege, they’re offered the choice of a complete lockdown of the whole school, just the external doors or even specific buildings or areas.

With superuser access, first responders can move freely throughout the building while a lockdown is in place.

Wink-Loving ISD have also chosen to add ICT tSec Keypad Readers to external doors so they can issue PINs to local authorities for access outside of the controlled drop off/pick up times.

All of this adds an extra layer of protection to the security solutions that ICT provides, so DAC Inc. and other ICT partners can help keep school districts like Wink-Loving ISD enhance student safety.

Mitigation through detection

Another consideration that is rapidly developing are requests for vape detection on campuses.

With rates of vaping increasing – latest figures say between 17-26% of adolescents now vape in the US and Canada respectively – it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stop.

Educators and school staff are already stretched thin and so are increasingly looking to technology like vape sensors to help.

By integrating Protege with a third-party sensor, when vapor is detected, staff can be notified within the status pages and floor plans in Protege and even receive push notifications to their phones.

Schools in the US are doing this with sensors such as Halo Smart Sensors, using a simple output connection, to bring another strand into the security ecosystem solution and increase student wellbeing.

Peace of mind for student safety

The results are transformative. School boards and governing bodies gain peace of mind with a future-proofed security system that prioritizes staff and student safety.

Administrators enjoy enhanced control and flexibility through feature-rich options that add efficiency to their operations.

Educators and students experience a user-friendly environment, while families find comfort in knowing their loved ones have the best protection possible.

With the touch of a button, Protege GX’s unique door lockdown function allows for instant lockdowns, restricting access during emergencies.

Other features like anti-passback, calendar actions and multiple area support further enhance security and simplify operations.

In an uncertain world, Protege GX showcases its reliability, enabling educational facilities to create secure and nurturing environments for both students and staff.

The success of these implementations serves as a testament to the power of modern security solutions in protecting educational facilities effectively.

About the author

Starting out by co-founding a technology distribution company, James Ensten has over 30 years of experience in the industry and a proven track record in strengthening global wholesale and reseller channels.

With a wealth of expertise and a keen ability to drive growth and develop successful channel strategies, James’ skill is invaluable to ICT’s growth.

This article was originally published in the September edition of Security Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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