Whether you're at a factory or a multi-family building, security is security. Your goal is to protect people and property, keep threats out and minimize risk.
The idea behind a security and access control system is safety, regardless of the site.
However, it goes without saying that different kinds of sites are going to have different needs. For example, a military base is going to require a little more security than a suburban office building.
Several industries have niche needs as well, including the education market.
Schools face unique challenges when it comes to security. Administrators must consider both internal and external threats, keeping children and staff safe while also ensuring that the school remains a positive learning environment.
Supply theft, sprawling campuses, unauthorized visitors, threats of violence...all of these are things schools need to consider when looking for the right security system.
Fortunately, a good school access control system is able to take all of the above into consideration.
Finding the right system is all about doing your homework
It's important to note that every school is different, which means every school's needs will differ in some way.
Schools in crowded urban areas will have different needs than those in the suburbs; college campuses will have different needs than elementary schools.
However, the features discussed in this post can be applied to schools of all ages, sizes and locations.
These "best practice" features take crucial steps toward providing the foundation upon which you can build the perfect system for your school.
1. Dynamic mapping tells you "where" without delay.
It's the middle of the school day, and all of a sudden an alarm goes off.
The first thoughts:
"What's that? Is someone trying to come in a side door? Did a student wander out? Did someone try to break into one of the laboratories?"
Notice that all of the above thoughts boil down to one basic question: where is the alarm coming from?
Like a beeping smoke detector in your home, many schools struggle to find the source of an alarm in a timely manner. Along with causing stress, this can cause costly delays in the time it takes to respond to an incident.
This makes dynamic mapping a key feature in a school access control system.
Dynamic mapping is a feature that pinpoints the exact location of an alarm, helping you instantaneously zero in on the source of the issue.
This feature displays all of the locks in your system on your screen, allowing you to quickly verify that everything is running smoothly. When you get an alarm alert, simply look at the map and see where it's coming from.
You can then direct security or staff to that location and address the alarm — no wondering required.
2. Instant lockdowns help isolate threats.
It's an unfortunate reality, but something schools think about on a daily basis: the threat of violence, whether it's a shooting, a terror attack or some other tragic event.
No one wants to experience an event like this, but everyone needs to have a plan in place for such a situation.
In many cases, schools will have assembly points or evacuation plans in the event of an emergency. However, one of the safer things to do (in some cases) is to shelter in place; this makes having a lockdown solution essential.
In this case, "lockdown" refers to immediately disabling access to all doors in the system. This helps prevent an intruder from gaining access to rooms where students and staff may be seeking shelter, effectively isolating the intruder.
For example, your school's policy in the event of an emergency is to shelter in place. When an intruder comes in, your security officer or safety administrator can go to your access control system and trigger a lockdown.
This will immediately lock every door in your school, preventing the intruder from gaining access to classrooms, offices and more.
While the threat will still need to be dealt with by the authorities, it helps to know that your students and staff are in a safely locked location.
Being able to immediately trigger a lockdown saves time, as staff members won't have to go around manually locking every door, and can save lives as well.
3. Control multiple buildings from a central location.
Schools that have multiple buildings all struggle with the same issue: "how do we secure all of our buildings while keeping our costs in check?"
Many schools will use a staffed security station at a central location, but don't have the money in the budget to put a guard in every building.
This turns into a security vulnerability by leaving the school with unprotected buildings and an overworked security guard who's expected to cover everything.
Standalone security systems help this by not requiring as many actual guards; however, some of these systems don't "talk" to one another, meaning if an alarm is going off in Building A and your guard is in Building B, he or she needs to walk over to B to check it out.
This stresses the importance of a system that can be deployed to multiple sites but managed from a single location.
Many enterprise-level access control systems have this feature, allowing a security team in one building to monitor a system that's in another, whether it's across the street or across the country. When combined with the dynamic mapping feature discussed above, it's easy to pinpoint the location of the alarm.
Having this feature in a system gives you greater control over monitoring your site, without requiring an increase in manpower and the increased budget that comes with it.
Choosing an access control and security system for a school is no small task: it requires a needs assessment, research and some time to review different options.
If you're ready to take the next steps toward adding a school access control system at your facility, we're here to help.
Whether you're just beginning the research phase or need specific details about how to overcome obstacles at your site, we're available for advice and a no-obligation consultation.