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Back-to-basics approach gaining steam for school security

The tragic event that recently took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, has left many communities reeling. For school systems, the shooting emphasizes the importance of security and the vital nature of protecting students against threats while fostering an environment that feels safe and welcoming. According to a recent SecurityInfoWatch report, many organizations in the security industry are advocating a back-to-basics approach for school security systems.

Going back to the basics
The key challenge for schools is that they have to focus on creating a safe learning environment that still allows for the free flow of people. This generally means developing a security system that is not invasive or inconvenient in any way. Considering that schools often have lots of windows and require multiple points of entry and exit, security can be a major challenge. Furthermore, many school buildings are decades old and lack the type of cabling and electrical infrastructure needed to establish advanced security systems. While these concerns are clear, the news source said that the event in Newtown has left many security industry companies and school districts with heavy hearts and a growing desire to improve the way they protect children without hindering their education.

The renewed emphasis on protecting children is leading many security integrators to return to an approach that emphasizes the basics. In particular, the focus is on access control and electronic security methods. Industry expert Bob Beck told SecurityInfoWatch that integrators are seeing a lot of new activity in response to the tragic shooting in Newtown.

"Incidents like this offend everyone’s stability and it's beyond words," Beck told the news source. "Friday afternoon we were getting many calls from our existing school customers, asking about additional access control or completing the last phase of their security system program upgrade. At first, I didn't know why, because I hadn't been watching or listening to the news. Then, I realized the magnitude of what had happened. These customers were asking about access control, cameras and panic buttons … We have always been a proponent of levels of security in schools, to slow down any incident. Unfortunately, you'll never prevent it, but you slow down events so occupants have time to get out, or first responders have time to act."

Deploying security tools that slow an intruder's progress
Industry expert Marshall Marinace told InfoSecurityWatch that one of the key challenges associated with preventing intruders from moving quickly through a building is that many architects and facility designers do not take access control and other security needs into account when they design academic buildings.

This creates an environment in which it can be difficult to develop access control systems that allow free movement for students on a day-to-day basis, but also allow administrators and security leaders to prevent an intruder from easily moving through a building.

Taking a layered approach to security could be the answer, as it gives schools the ability to monitor access at multiple levels, allowing students to move freely but providing enough checks throughout a campus that intruders can be slowed at multiple points. In many cases, accomplishing this depends on the ability to use a combination of access control technologies, advanced electronic lock systems and cameras throughout a building. These types of solutions provide security personnel with the ability to identify where intruders are, lock doors strategically to slow their access and provide the oversight needed to give students and faculty members a clear path to exits. Through such a layered approach to access control and security, schools can take an important step in protecting individuals without getting in the way of day-to-day activities.

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