School and campus security systems guide

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What are school and campus security systems?

Educational facilities should be geared to one thing only – to provide an environment conducive to learning. To achieve this, a strong foundation of safety is necessary and that comes from installing a comprehensive security system for schools and campuses from reputable school security companies – one that encompasses a school and campus alarm system, access control, door locks and video security as well as other school security solutions. 

With a greater focus on security systems for schools and campuses over the past decade, educational facilities have been adopting security cameras for schools and university campuses as well as school alarm systems and effective access control. The National Center for Education Statistics stated that between 2009–10 and 2019–20, the percentage of public schools reporting the use of school security solutions increased, with a 49% increase in the use of security cameras, a 22% increase for ID badges and a 6% increase for access control.

Security alarm systems for schools and campuses

An effective school alarm system can help secure educational facilities from theft, unauthorized access, fire and natural disasters – some of which need to be adhered to as part of local building codes. By installing perimeter alarms, any intrusion event can trigger the school alarm system, which would emit a loud siren and/or flashing lights, helping to ensure any intruder is made aware that their trespassing has alerted the security team and the relevant authorities. A sensor alarm for doors can also help school administrators detect events like doors left ajar and jammed locks. Door security alarms can be triggered through a motion sensor alarm, vibration detector, a sensor alarm on a door or via infrared.

Differences between a school security alarm system and campus security alarm systems

Depending on the setting, whether it’s a school alarm system for a K-12 single building or a college campus security alarm system for a sprawling multi-building complex, integrated security systems for schools and campuses help protect students and faculty. 

For single building facilities, an alarm system for schools can be installed that provides enhanced situational awareness, both indoors and outdoors. For example, when a fire alarm is triggered, the alert is sent to the security team via the school alarm system and, with the supporting mapping software, they are able to see where in the school that alarm was triggered. This school alarm system information can then be shared with the relevant staff or first responders who can respond to the situation without having to search for the alarm location themselves, saving precious time. 

With university campus security systems, operators need to be alerted to events taking place in multiple locations. Unlike a security alarm system for schools that alerts operators to an event taking place within a short walking distance from the control room, operators of campus security systems may be alerted to an incident that is a driving distance away from their control room. Door security alarms would be required for entrances and exits, staff rooms, data rooms, libraries, gyms and other facilities that are typically found across a university campus.

Access control and door locks for schools and college campuses

It’s vital that educational facilities implement school and college campus security solutions that are able to allow authorized individuals onto their sites and keep unauthorized individuals out. Access control systems are keyless entry systems that are used to secure both outdoor and indoor environments, from parking lots to classrooms. With multiple access control methods available, from keypads to biometrics to mobile-based, it’s important that you find the solution that best fits into your school safety solution.

Whether it is during the school day, at night, or even during the weekend, schools and universities need to ensure their facilities remain secure at all times. With an advanced access control system that incorporates the best school door locks and door sensor alarms installed at various campus and school security checkpoints, unauthorized individuals will be unable to gain access to restricted buildings as they won’t possess the right credentials. Should they decide to force entry, an alert is sent to the security system for schools and universities, notifying the operator of an intrusion. All access events are reported in an activity log, allowing operators to see who is accessing what and when. With effective door locks that include a security alarm for the door or a sensor alarm for the door, you can go even further with securing restricted areas within a building. 

Types of access control solutions

The best door sensor alarms and locks, as part of a modern access control security system for schools and college campuses, will allow those with the correct credentials to easily gain access to a building, classroom or school facility. Schools and campuses can provide such credentials to students, staff and even planned visitors or vendors, in the form of badges, as part of an on-premise solution, or via cloud-based mobile access, where credentials can be sent digitally to the individual’s smartphone. 

An on-premise access control security system for schools is hosted on your own servers and kept in-house, which helps your team take sole management of the settings, connections and controls without having to rely on a third-party vendor. 

With a cloud-based access control system, access events can be managed remotely at any time – meaning the operator does not have to be on-site to authorize access, adjust settings and hand out credentials. Not only does this type of security system for schools help to increase efficiency and reduce costs, but it is also quick to deploy and scale in size.

Security cameras for schools and college campuses

When a situation develops, security teams need to know what is happening and where. By placing school security cameras at particular school security checkpoints, such as in incident-prone areas, they can provide live and recorded video to the control room via the video management software (VMS), giving operators enhanced situational awareness and the ability to make informed decisions that expedite real-time responses and forensic investigations. The latest cloud-based IP security camera solutions possess AI-powered video analytics which have the ability to automatically alert users to an unfolding incident on their VMS, resulting in streamlined responses and providing essential information that can enhance school security systems procedures.

Types of security cameras

Bullet and dome security cameras

  • A popular choice for a variety of use cases, indoors and outdoors.
  • Capable of providing clear video footage.
  • Advanced dome and bullet camera models offer AI-powered video analytics, helping to alert users to threats that otherwise may have been missed.
  • Installation is straightforward.

Panoramic security cameras

  • Fisheye and multi-directional panoramic cameras can provide up to 360-degree views and some are built with AI-powered video analytics that help to enhance situational awareness.
  • School or campus security systems generally require fewer panoramic security cameras as small and large spaces can be easily monitored by a single panoramic camera, helping to reduce overall deployment costs.
  • A sleek, low-profile design helps the camera blend in with the environment and makes it less obtrusive.
  • Simple installation.

PTZ security cameras 

  • Expansive coverage and good low-light performance. When combined with excellent zoom capabilities, the PTZ camera is the best solution when monitoring large outdoor spaces, day and night. PTZ makes for ideal cameras for parking lots or school grounds.
  • Some models are packed with AI-powered analytics, such as object classification and motion detection.
  • Capable of handling a variety of weather conditions.

The benefits of an integrated security system for schools

Connecting the different components of school security solutions can create a stronger, more holistic system. When choosing campus security systems, look for school security companies that offer seamless integration between locks, access control, cameras, and alarms for the highest level of protection and efficiency.

Use case: Integrated alarm systems and school security solutions

An example of the effective use of an alarm system for schools integrated with other school security solutions is when dealing with vaping incidents. With the recent surge in teenage vaping, especially among high school students, educational facilities need to be aware of students bringing vaping devices with them to school and using them. In a recent study, teachers expressed concern about vaping in schools, reporting incidents of students vaping that led to classroom disruptions. By installing vape detectors that are integrated with the alarms in the school’s security system, the on-site team can be alerted to vaping events instantly, allowing them to respond appropriately. With this school alarm system, vaping incidents at high schools can be cut down significantly. 

HALO Smart Sensor - Avigilon Control Center (ACC) Integration

  • All-in-one intelligent device. Can help with vape and THC detection, air quality monitoring, aggression detection and calls for help, gunshot detection, chemical and gas detection and vandalism and trespassing alerts.
  • Receive real-time alerts when the sensor detects an anomaly in ACC™ 
  • Prevent damage and associated cleaning costs that are caused by smoke particles and poor air quality

Use case: School security solutions for bike thefts

Unfortunately, bike thefts are becoming more common on school campuses, with a recent study from England stating that on average there is one bike theft recorded for every 66 students, and 96% of cases either resulted in no suspect being identified or had no outcome. As part of a security system for schools and colleges, installing video security cameras integrated with the school alarm system at strategic points near a bike shed may help limit theft. By capturing the entire scene, bike theft incidents can be recorded as well as brought to the attention of the security team as they are occuring. The bike alarm system for schools could then sound to deter the thief, and the recorded footage can assist in identifying and locating the suspect if they’re still on campus. With the help of AI video analytics, such as Avigilon Appearance Search™ technology, the school security solution could also alert authorities if the suspect returns to campus.

Use case: School lockdown procedure

In rare situations, a school or campus lockdown may be necessary to ensure safety. Effective lockdown procedures for schools can be carried out by a responsive access control system – one that also integrates with a school alarm system, cameras and sensors to create a powerful school security solution. For example, if an intruder is able to force entry through the entrance doors and access an elementary school, the door security alarms will send an alert via the school’s access control system and notify security that an unauthorized individual has gained access. A cloud-based lockdown activation, offered by school security companies like Openpath, lets administrators trigger a custom lockdown plan from anywhere, ensuring classrooms and other secure areas remain inaccessible to the intruder. With an integrated video security system, the operator can also locate and track the intruder’s whereabouts in order to respond quickly and decisively.

If such a situation occurred at a sprawling college campus, the security team could respond differently by initiating a lockdown at the specific site of the intrusion only. As a result, the disruption would not be seen campus-wide.

Motorola Solutions Access Control Manager (ACM) for schools

  • 100% browser-based and mobile-enabled solution allows users to respond to alerts from anywhere, anytime.
  • Review and verify alarms generated by ACM with associated video in ACC™ for quicker responses.
  • Future-proof your site with open-platform hardware from leading manufacturers.
  • Record student attendance with ACM Verify™ virtual stations.
  • Create rule-based actions and notifications for fast responses.
View school security products

Cybersecurity for school security systems

There’s never been a better time to ensure schools and colleges are adopting best practices and implementing solutions designed to protect confidential information. The focus must turn to establishing strong cybersecurity resilience as part of a security system for schools and campuses by: 

  • Carrying out an audit of the facility’s network and cybersecurity systems and ensuring this occurs frequently so weaknesses can be addressed.
  • Ensuring all staff have been cybersecurity trained and students are educated on the best practices for avoiding being the target of a cyber attack.
  • Limiting who has access to networks and establishing strong firewalls in order to suppress any unauthorized activities.
  • Restricting physical access to data rooms and IT infrastructure with the help of an advanced access control system.
  • Backing up school data systems routinely and in accordance with regulations.
  • Developing a thorough cybersecurity attack response procedure. 

Security management platforms

With many standalone security systems for schools and universities, it is important that these systems are handled efficiently. By implementing a security management platform, teams can centralize the maintenance, operational state and scaling of the school alarm system, access control and video security. By centralizing all these systems on one platform, teams can reduce workload, improve productivity and ensure their school and campus security systems are optimized and operational.

Security systems for schools and colleges checklist

Now that you’re familiar with the types of security systems for schools and campuses, use this checklist to help build a powerful, integrated security system that will help keep your school or college campus safe.

School alarm system

  • Ensure your school alarm system adheres to building codes with reliable smoke and fire alarm systems for schools as well as a school alarm system for natural disasters.
  • Adopt an integrated alarm system as part of your security system for school – one that works seamlessly with door security alarms, access control and video security systems.
  • Take into account the size of your elementary school or high school – is it a single-building or multi-building site, how many floors are there, what indoor and outdoor areas need to be secured, and where is the security office located in proximity to the high-traffic areas?

School access control and door lock system

  • Research the different types of access control solutions. Does an on-premise system suit your school best or a cloud-based mobile solution? Does it integrate with other elements that fall within your school security systems?
  • Identify school security checkpoints that require access control and door locks. This goes beyond just installing such solutions at entrances and exits. Consider adding interior doors to offices, labs, and restricted areas to your school security system.
  • When an intrusion is attempted and the security alarm for the door or the sensor alarm for the door is triggered, does the solution you’re looking for include an automatic school lockdown procedure option?
  • Ensure your school security solutions, door locks in particular, adhere to fire and safety regulations. 

Security camera system for schools

  • Identify the areas of your school that require a video security solution.
  • Select the best camera type for each site in your school that requires a security camera.
  • Confirm your video security cameras and VMS integrate with your access control and alarm systems.

Additional considerations for campus security solutions

Outdoor spaces and large events

  • Identify areas within your campus ground, aside from learning environments, that require a robust campus security system. Do parking lots, pathways, sports fields and venues require security cameras to monitor events and controlled entry with smart access control solutions?
  • During large-scale events, such as a game at your sports venue, will your campus security systems be able to handle the influx of people? Think about the strategic placement of security cameras so you can capture entire scenes, the use of AI analytics to identify any unusual events and the areas that require security checkpoints and access control.  

Flexible lockdown procedures

  • Ensure your security alarm system is integrated with your access control system so that you can detect, verify and respond to any intrusion events instantly.
  • Does your integrated campus security system allow you to initiate lockdown procedures at specific locations on your grounds in order to minimize disruption campus-wide?

Access control

  • Confirm your campus security system is capable of granting access to authorized personnel 24/7. This may include students visiting the campus library, or staff accessing the parking lot late at night.
  • How will you grant access to authorized visitors and vendors? Does your access control system allow you to easily provide access credentials both on-site and remotely? If so, is this in the form of a badge or mobile-based access?

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