The tragedy of mass shootings in US schools is incomprehensible. While many rally for tighter gun laws, others scramble to heighten school security measures to keep children and staff safer.
Improving school security
Advancements in technology have ushered in a new era of security sophistication. While some are significantly costly, recent events have resulted in more and more schools taking what control they have left into their own hands and stepping up their security systems.
Access control systems
Access control technology allows school administrators and faculty to securely carry encrypted access credentials to sensitive areas, such as offices or other facilities.
Access control systems maximize security by giving schools real-time insights as to who is present on campus. In addition, the records kept provide school security personnel with an up-to-date log of all visitor comings and goings. Access control systems that operate with encrypted authorizations (such as those embedded in fobs or mobile apps) allow those in charge of security to issue or revoke access permissions at any time, without needing to confiscate keys or cards.
Additionally, with modern access control systems, wireless smart school door locks can be installed, allowing for remotely managed locking, and automatic locking in the event that a lockdown is triggered.
Visitor management systems
Visitor management systems can be integrated with access control technology, allowing staff to identify all authorized and expected visitors, and receive notifications when someone presents. In addition, these systems can be connected to national databases, scanning visitor identities and checking them against sex offender registers.
Quality video surveillance systems allow security personnel to carry out ongoing monitoring of the school and its perimeters, review stored footage, and share vital footage with law enforcement.
Additionally, by integrating access control technology with CCTV, cloud-based systems allow for remote, real-time management resulting in heightened overall security, and faster response times. Cloud-based systems also enable security staff to instantly share data or footage with law enforcement or first responders in an emergency.
Gunshot detection systems
In recent years, schools in the US have begun investing in gunshot detection systems. These systems utilize acoustic sensor technologies to identify and report gunshot activity to the authorities within seconds of a shot being fired. Gunshot detection systems have become highly sophisticated, with sensors able to detect and decipher the sound of a gunshot, telling them apart from sounds like locker doors being slammed with pinpoint accuracy.
When the system detects gunfire through acoustic microphones, and the simultaneous infrared flash of the weapon, an alarm is raised, alerting 911 dispatchers within seconds. From there, police will be notified as to the exact location of the shots, and they will also have access to the school's cameras that will continue to broadcast from that location.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Some systems are even sophisticated enough now that they can leverage AI technologies to work as weapon detection systems. These object detection algorithms enable hybrid systems to work alongside video surveillance systems to detect and automatically notify security personnel of the presence of weapons such as guns and knives.
Social media monitoring
Public social media posts can be monitored at a local, state, and federal level, with the FBI and local authorities constantly monitoring for potential threats.
In addition, many schools are now implementing computer programs that function in the cloud, monitoring for dangerous words or phrases and alerting the school for further investigation. These systems also enable schools to keep an eye out for any harmful behaviors such as bullying.
Metal detectors and scanning machines
Particularly prominent in inner-city schools, x-ray machines and metal detectors are now used in an increasing number of schools. These systems allow for gun, knife, and other weapons detection, keeping these threats out of the school campus.
Many teachers are now being given panic buttons to wear on their belts or keep in their pockets. These panic buttons can be used to alert school administrators and authorities in the event of an emergency. Some panic button brands also double as microphones, enabling the teacher to provide additional information to first responders.
Many US schools hold lists of known potential security threats, such as ex-students and parents who are prone to violent behavior, or sexual predators to live close by. Facial recognition technology utilizes cutting-edge AI algorithms to detect visitors who pose a potential threat and alert security personnel immediately. Any leveraging of AI technologies ensures that security cameras can effectively detect and respond to risk and attack even when the live footage is not being reviewed in real time.
The need for such heightened security in our schools is a tragic yet vital issue that must be addressed. Recent advancements in technology are providing a wide range of highly effective options, and allowing for system integrations that result in far greater risk monitoring and response times.