The safety of our students and staff is of utmost importance. Not only do schools serve as places of learning but they’re also community gathering places and centers of refuge during times of crisis. Technology providers have developed a number of solutions that replace paper and pencil solutions of the past; these include: keyless entry systems, security cameras, cashless campuses, facial monitoring, picture ID badges that grant access and record movements for students, staff and volunteers, electronic hall passes, single touch emergency badges, etc. Schools are adopting a number of them, but there are challenges.
Providing Campus Security Is a Tall Order
“Schools want to do right by the students, but they only have x number of dollars to spend. They want to find tools and technologies that maximize their impact with the limited dollars they have.” – Pat Bhava, CEO of PikMyKid.
Schools are trying to be more forward-thinking in how they deliver education, but that means students are not just in traditional classrooms. They’re using their buildings in new ways, and students are moving around more. Principals want to know where students are. They’re concerned about hall pass abuse, mischief in bathrooms, vaping, and other safety concerns that schools need to address on a daily basis, including student accountability and creating a safe environment.
“Active shooter and violent critical incidents are top of mind. They make the news. But it’s the everyday stuff that happens that presents the greatest challenges, such as power going out, water not working. Many schools have no plan for those emergencies.” – Erik Endress, CEO of Share911
Challenges of Delivering Efficient Campus Security
Before education can happen, students need to feel safe, so campus security is of paramount importance. But on the part of administrators, there also needs to be an acceptance that bad things can happen. There is no exempt community. And there’s more to keeping the campus safe than just putting together a “what-if” plan. Schools are forced to consider how they’ll deal with injuries, what they’ll do if students and teachers are on lockdown for several hours with no access to bathrooms, and how they’ll reunify students with parents once the crisis is over.
Nathan Hammond, CEO at Eduspire, identified three things that are often overlooked in developing stronger campus security:
- Working more closely with the community
- Obtaining teacher buy-in to new procedures and ways of doing things
- Moving beyond institutional thinking and stop repeating procedures that have been in place for 30-40 years
The Role of Technology
While there are many analog resources – audits, checklists, guidelines, reports – they still make school principals and administrators use paper. What can EdTech do to save time, money, make teachers more efficient and make the school more effective with campus security?
“Technology can really create dynamic safety enhancements and efficiencies. For example, for the last 50 years, schools have used hall passes. By simply converting to a digital hall pass system, the school suddenly has access to a whole new set of data about hall traffic, minutes students are spending outside the classroom. You can see patterns. You can find students when there is an emergency. You can use the data to identify students who may be struggling and need a counselor.” – Nathan Hammond, CEO, Eduspire.
Since Sandy Hook, there has been a total explosion of people trying to keep people safer in schools and workplaces. In just five years, we now have artificial intelligence, facial recognition, license plate readers, and weapons detection. The trick is how to connect everything together so that you don’t have eight different solutions all related to safety but deployed separately. There needs to be a unified platform that a school can use to tie all of the solutions together into a single system.
What Schools Can Do Now to Improve Campus Security at No Cost
- Talk to your teachers. Hear what they need.
- Mine existing data. Look for patterns in behavior.
- Be proactive in the way you think about campus security. Don’t assume it can’t happen at your school.
- Look at the after-action responses taken by other schools who have experienced incidents and analyze what your school would do in the situation. Identify any weak points.
- Take full advantage of free resources that are available to help.
One of the biggest challenges that schools face is inadequate funding. How do they pay for the technology they need to make their schools safer? And how do they know the investment they are making is worthwhile? Physical campus security is one of the most important considerations of any principal or school administrator, but meeting the need means overcoming funding issues. Consider applying for a Safer Schools in America on-demand grant. We offer on-demand grants to allow schools to conduct a one-year pilot of an EdTech solution that will help make their school safer.