Schools and universities the world over are faced with many security challenges, including burglary, vandalism, bullying, drugs and other crimes. As a result, security solutions have become a critical component in ensuring the safety of students, teachers and visitors at any educational facility. While there are many technologies that can assist in combating these problems, security is never a ‘one size fits all’ solution, and often the educational sector is faced with tight budgets, which further exacerbate this challenge. Systems need to be tailored to meet the specific needs of each individual educational environment, and integrated to deliver proactive, holistic security, in order to deliver maximum value within budget constraints.

Similar to any home or business, educational facilities are often the target of opportunistic break-ins, where anything from chairs and tables to expensive hardware and computer equipment may be stolen. Other problems common at educational facilities include student unrest, and hijacking amongst others.

Safeguarding the students and staff, as well as protecting the assets of schools, universities and other training facilities, is critical. It requires a strategic approach to security, harnessing the latest technologies in an integrated fashion to ensure measures can be taken proactively to minimise the effects of these issues. CCTV systems form one of the core components in the security arsenal. Visible cameras can act as a significant deterrent in many instances and also ensure that evidence can be presented in case of an issue. However, simply implementing a CCTV system is a reactive solution, as footage is only useful after the fact and cannot actively prevent problems from escalating. Combining CCTV with remote monitoring and linking this into a reaction service can ensure that problems can be tackled in a more proactive fashion. Cameras with remote monitoring can be installed inside classrooms, around perimeter fencing and in public spaces – with advances in wireless technology there are practically no limits, and any issues can be identified quickly for an appropriate response. Sophisticated pan-tilt-zoom cameras can even be used to monitor large areas such as playing fields, but require manual operation and monitoring to ensure success. This can help to prevent theft, vandalism and bullying, and can also be used to identify the culprits of any of these incidents should they occur.

Aside from CCTV there are several other solutions that can be implemented and integrated for a more holistic approach. Access control can enhance security, as well as decreasing administrative tasks. Biometric and card reader solutions can both ensure that unauthorised access is prevented, as well as providing an accurate list of all students and staff members on the premises at all times. Biometric readers have an additional advantage, as a card can be lost, stolen or lent to others, while biometrics cannot, adding yet another security layer. In addition, these solutions can be integrated with CCTV to verify the identity of those gaining access to different areas with a visual aid. Access control solutions can generate a roll call of students on the school premises, simplifying administrative tasks around compiling manual attendance lists.

Perimeter fencing solutions can also be implemented to sound an alert if intruders come within a certain proximity of fencing. This can prevent access via unmonitored areas and can also deter drug dealers from approaching students through fencing. Again this can be integrated with CCTV to provide visual confirmation of events and identities. Fire solutions and alarms can be linked to access control as well, to ensure that in the event of an emergency, doors can be automatically opened and an accurate roll call can be delivered to validate that no students are missing.

Ultimately, while there are many technologies available that can enhance security in the educational sector, determining the correct solution requires examination on a case-by-case basis. The environment, location and demographics of the area need to be analysed and typical issues determined so that the right mix of solutions can be designed. These solutions should then be integrated to ensure maximum efficiency, a proactive approach, and enhanced value for spend to ensure budgets are met.