Strategic video surveillance creates safer K-12 schools
The school security landscape has dramatically shifted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Video surveillance remains a critical tool in protecting the K-12 community, with U.S. schools investing over $360 million in physical security equipment in 2020.
Schools across the U.S. are putting their money where their concerns are and increasingly investing in new security technologies to create safer environments for our nation’s students. This investment trend is evidenced in a 2020 study conducted by Omdia on behalf of the Security Industry Association (SIA). Their report showed that the market for physical security equipment in K-12 and higher education was estimated at $716 million in 2020, with the K-12 sector accounting for around 56% of the total spend. Schools are looking to improve their physical security defenses, and video systems figure largely in strengthening that arsenal.
Data from a 2021 survey by the National Center for Education Statics shows that students and school personnel alike each view shootings, victimization, fights, weapons and illegal substances as key concerns. These issues may only be amplified by the fact that the pandemic has acutely increased the number of young people suffering from mental health issues.
Schools, as well as the security leaders that serve them, have a tough balance to strike — keeping schools open while protecting the perimeter and making internal areas feel safe and welcoming. A comprehensive mix of strategically positioned cameras and flexible video management systems (VMS) can be powerful weapons in protecting schools and campuses.
Leveraging VMS to strengthen security district-wide
To enhance the effectiveness of district-wide efforts, it’s important to evaluate VMS platforms to ensure that the software being used is scalable and flexible. Another critical consideration for security leaders is ensuring video surveillance. A VMS should be able to integrate with other core safety, security and building management solutions based on an organization’s needs, but it should not put a heavy burden on operating costs. Many VMS offerings today facilitate a distributed video surveillance architecture that is flexible yet robust and that enable centralized monitoring to provide a district’s central control room with a view of all school building locations.
K-12 districts can leverage a VMS to allow school resource officers (SROs) and teaching staff access to live and recorded video footage, empowering them to manage local events and incidents. Options exist that provide protection against footage loss in the event of a range of network instability or power outages. A critical failover feature will recognize the issue and switch over to a redundant system to ensure an uninterrupted video stream.
The art of strategically placing cameras
To further enhance school security and facilitate district-wide resilience, cameras should not only be installed at the perimeter, but also on the school grounds. This can be instrumental in helping schools detect, identify and take action against known perpetrators before they reach the school itself. Correctly positioned high-resolution cameras with powerful zoom capabilities can provide wide-area coverage to protect building perimeters, parking lots, playgrounds and playing fields.
Security leaders can use license plate recognition (LPR) technology to help secure parking lots and automate vehicle access. For example, authorized vehicle lists will allow staff and parents to gain unhampered entry to dedicated parking spaces. Integrating visitor management systems can also streamline the arrival of guests, contractors and regular deliveries while preventing unauthorized vehicles from entering.