Innovations in educational security
By Trigion Security Services
Electronic solutions have been part of security for many years, with the use of gate security in educational settings, in particular, commonplace in the battle to keep people and property safe. Security threats constantly evolve and so do the solutions available to tackle issues. There are now cost-effective electronic solutions that cover almost every eventuality, explains Neil Ricketts, technical services director at Trigion Security Services.
Although school budgets are under pressure, safeguarding pupils will always have a high priority. Advancements have made security systems available for a more affordable price; electronic systems are no longer the exclusive preserve of high value, or particularly high risk properties. For instance, domestic customers can monitor their homes from anywhere in the world with just a small camera and a smart phone; however, most educational settings require a bit more protection than that.
One of the biggest developments is the establishment of remote security operations centres, such as ours, which can monitor and interact with sites 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These centres mean security can be improved dramatically, but unobtrusively, so that it doesn’t impact on day to day educational life. Whatever security options are selected, this remote monitoring offers peace of mind, without breaking the bank.
The most obvious and familiar aspect of educational security is the gateway to the property. There are many options for controlling access to, and within, a site. Swipe or proximity cards are a popular and straightforward option for many schools and colleges. A swipe card is a classic case of ‘doing what it says on the tin’. Each authorised user swipes their card in a reader to gain access to the premises.
A proximity card is an upgrade option where the ‘contactless’ smart card is read without having to insert it into a reader. They work along the same lines as contactless payment cards and are convenient for those who may not always have a hand free to insert a pass in a reader – a vital consideration for teachers carrying lots of books, paperwork or that all important cup of tea!
The cards can be enhanced by incorporating further security options such as magnetic swipe facilities, barcode reading technology and photographic identification. The cards allow the users’ locations to be monitored, which can help keep them safe as well as anyone they come into contact with.
For more vulnerable settings, biometric solutions such as fingerprint readers, retinal eye scanners and hand geometry readers all offer a higher level of security. Although once only seen in the likes of a James Bond film the technology is now far more easily accessible, as anyone with an iPhone can testify.
Access to premises can also be granted remotely. This option is particularly useful for lone workers or the first people arriving in the morning or last to leave at night – we know teachers don’t get to go home when their pupils do. We have installed systems in remotely located schools for example, ensuring the user is safe when working alone early in the morning or late into the evening.
Someone to watch over you
Those with a history background may be aware that the earliest documented use of CCTV technology is reported to have been in Germany in 1942, when it was used to protect V2 rockets. CCTV has come a long way since those early days. Originally events could only be watched live rather than being recorded and reviewed as necessary. Now as well as reviewing activities, proactive CCTV systems mean preventative action can be taken. Staff monitoring the site remotely can trigger sound and visuals to deter people at the point they are trying to gain access or commit a crime. This real-time interaction is a highly effective way of preventing unwanted activity.
Systems would normally be installed outside school hours, but in any event it is important that the CCTV Data Protection Act is complied with, and that commissioning staff are licensed assessors. All systems must also be fitted according to SSAIB and NSI standards.
The bells, the bells
Whatever security solutions are selected, there may still be times when things go wrong. Alarms continue to play an important role in deterring and alerting people. Having a contract with a security team who are able to monitor the premises remotely means they can quickly assess the danger, or if it’s a false alarm, and respond accordingly. This means the caretaker or other keyholder will not need to be disturbed unnecessarily and the appropriate action can be taken more quickly.
Security systems can now also be integrated with fire alarms and other electrical systems, meaning they too can be monitored remotely 24 hours a day; adding value and protecting buildings from wider threats than just criminal activity, such as flooding or fire.
Everyone has the right to be educated and work in safety, unfortunately all too often that is not the case. However, investing in the right security systems and working with a company that offers remote monitoring means that everyone in the educational setting can know they are being safeguarded.