Using Integrated Security Solutions for Grades K-12



Just like the college campuses we looked at in the most recent article, K-12 level schools have security needs to protect against active shooters and other emergencies. Schools need the ability to instantly go into a lockdown while at the same time sending alerts to staff, students, and parents or guardians. These integrated security systems also serve the day to day needs of the school, restricting access to certain areas based on time of day, performing video surveillance, as well as access control.

When schools implement technology as single tools instead of holistic solutions, they miss out on control of the campus, reduction in operating cost, and overall effectiveness. With emergency management systems, it is important to use a layered approach with the ability to secure a perimeter, control access, send emergency messages, manage surveillance, and enter a lockdown state. The state of a full school lockdown is used in these smaller schools as it would be next to impossible to implement well in a university setting, but K-12 environments are small and institutional enough to be able to make use of it.

Using secured entrances and exits for all points of entry allows management to track everyone entering and exiting during the day. Door locks may be linked to security personnel who can open or close doorways in emergency situations. Integrating turnstiles, video analytics, intercoms, and intrusion detection devices are all options to be deployed at access control points. The school can assign different levels of access to students, staff, and visitors, and can track their movements and how long they spend in each location. This can all be valuable security data to mitigate future threats and to monitor in ongoing analysis.

Using IP-based video surveillance is a must. The cameras will be integrated into the larger system and backed up to the cloud. The school can then take advantage of digital storage, remote monitoring, and video analytics if desired. A well designed system will also include monitoring of individual room condition statuses, which are important in case of the need for a lockdown, evacuation, or order to shelter-in-place. All of these features work in concert to provide a truly next generation level of security at the K-12 level specifically designed to cater to the needs of schools of this size and with this young of a student population. The integration of the fundamentals, access control, IP-video, lockdown features, emergency messaging, and analytics makes it possible to have near total control over the campus in the case of an emergency.


Security Technology of South Texas is happy to offer custom designed systems such as this from the ground up or integrated into existing infrastructure, where possible. We are available 24/7 at on our website or via phone at 210-446-4863.

Exploring Mass Notification Systems for Campuses




Mass notification systems have already been present on college campuses for a number of years. But these systems often either failed to respond quickly enough or to reach a majority of those on campus. Myriad threats, from active shooter situations, protests turned violent, and even outbreaks of diseases are present in these large institutions. These events require a school to arm itself with the technology to quickly communicate with large numbers of people to prevent loss of life. Here we will look at some current solutions campuses are employing in an effort to be proactive against shootings and other violence.

Because campuses can vary in size from small community colleges to massive military academies, it is important that a mass notification system be able to segment alerts based on location. Something going on a thousand acres across campus may not be relevant to the entire school. Having a hybrid system with at least some hosted in the cloud allows for scaling of the response system rapidly. So called “message fatigue” can prevent people from viewing these alerts, which makes it even more important to target based on location of the incident. In smaller campuses, it may be useful to expand the alerts to non-emergency messages about class cancellations or buildings closing. This is a balancing act the school must engage in to fit their needs.

Using SaaS and cloud based options will reduce Total Cost of Ownership by eliminating on-site hardware, maintenance, staffing, and other dedicated infrastructure. Most modern systems now work in this way. Of course, with any large system you must anticipate malicious activity and aim to thwart it. Data encryption “at-rest and in-transit”, using top tier data centers, recipient pin codes, and other features are must haves. An attacker could otherwise compromise the system and issue false alerts or even alerts designed to distract from some planned event such as a mass shooting or on campus riot. The vendor used should basically have uptime 100 percent of the time with support across all platforms, mobile and otherwise. Integrating security into a mass alert system will likely require a team of IT professionals, but not as many as would be needed without cloud hosting.

The design of the messaging itself is up to the school. Separate sets of protocols for emergencies versus simple announcements will make the difference between a useful system and a nuisance. The end user will need to be able to distinguish between alerts quickly, which can be achieved through emergency tones associated with the messages. Finally, you should be able to assign users different levels of access throughout the system within your IT team. Malicious individuals can and often do originate from the “inside”.

Security Technology of South Texas is happy to offer custom designed systems such as this from the ground up or integrated into existing infrastructure, where possible. We are available 24/7 at on our website or via phone at 210-446-4863.

Source: Campus Security Magazine