As active shooter scenarios attract an increasing amount of media attention, schools across the nation are investing in stronger, more reliable security measures.
Each year, the School Safety Advocacy Council holds a conference on issues related to school safety and security. The event typically attracts roughly 80 exhibitors and 700 attendees, but The New York Times reports that in the wake of the tragic mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February, this year it’s expected to draw over 120 exhibitors and 1,000 attendees.
And while the impact of the Parkland, Florida, shooting cannot be overlooked, schools across the country have been taking an increasingly keen interest in fortifying their security infrastructures for some time now. According to IHS Markit research, the education-oriented security equipment and services market surpassed $2.7 billion in 2017.
The optimal configuration of security systems varies from school to school, and even more from locale to locale (think: rural vs. urban). But one thing that’s consistent across all districts is the need for robust investment to set up and maintain these security systems. Unfortunately, as highlighted by the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, American schools face a collective $38 billion annual investment gap. That gap has prevented them from refurbishing their facilities in a manner that guarantees “healthy, safe, and modern learning environments.”
States like Ohio and New Jersey have passed legislation in support of stronger school security measures, but the federal government has still failed to take action. “The protection of schools, as an element of our nation’s critical infrastructure, should be deemed a priority for homeland security,” says former California Deputy Director of Homeland Security for Critical Infrastructure Dr. Erroll Southers. “It is time to have federal financial support for securing U.S. school facilities and protecting the nation’s most critical asset — its children.”
Regardless of whether this federal support ever arrives, schools do have a number of cost-effective security measures at their disposal, most notably surveillance cameras and access control systems.
In fact, according to the IHS Markit research, the ongoing expansion of the education-oriented security equipment and services market has largely been driven by investment in these kinds of systems. Between 1999 and 2013, the proportion of schools deploying surveillance cameras has increased from 20% to 70%, and the proportion of schools deploying access control systems has increased from 75% to 90%.
According to a report from the RAND Corporation, administrators in urban, densely populated schools agree that video surveillance technology is “very appropriate” as a countermeasure against both “severe forms of school violence” like active shooters and “school violence” like bullying. Unlike metal detectors and X-ray machines, which more than 80% of these administrators say “encourage students to have negative attitudes toward school,” surveillance cameras are both effective and discreet.
Beyond helping authorities identify an active shooter and evaluate the effectiveness of school security measures after a tragic event, surveillance cameras can actually make a campus evacuation quicker by delivering real-time information to first responders as an event unfolds.
At Turn-key Technologies, in addition to our comprehensive surveillance solutions, we’ve designed the TTI Guardian to be a reliable, high-functioning safeguard in schools and other soft targets like courthouses and hospitals. In the event of an emergency, a staff member just presses the duress alarm button on their personal call fob or two-way pager and a high-priority alert is automatically sent via the TTI Guardian wireless repeater network to the system hub. The distress signal is then transmitted to other school staff members, quietly notifying them of both who triggered the alarm and where the alarm was triggered.
As the Rural School and Community Trust points out, “It is clear that no single action will prevent all incidents of violence in schools…yet there are many things that can be done to reduce the likelihood of a violent event.”
Investing in a finely tuned security system like the TTI Guardian is an effective way that schools can live up to their mandate to both educate and protect our nation’s future.
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