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6 Things to Include in an Education Physical Security Assessment

June 29, 2017

6 Things to Include in an Education Physical Security Assessment

The global physical security market is on pace to reach $100 billion in revenue by 2019, and new projects on K-12 and higher education campuses are expected to account for a large percentage of that growth. Value-added resellers (VARs) stand well-positioned for success in the education market once they’ve learned some of the unique challenges and opportunities that exist on school campuses.

When working with education customers, you’ll most often be specifying an end-to-end security solution, rather than a single device or a couple of cameras, because technology upgrades are generally done all at once, every seven years. So a thorough physical security assessment is vital to fully understand where the campus stands when it comes to security.

Physical security assessments allow you to detail any threats that a campus may face, which can help you in your efforts to secure education projects. By demonstrating exactly what a school needs to cope with risks and reduce liability, you position yourself as an expert that stakeholders will look to for technology recommendations.

Here are six items that you should include in your education physical security assessments:

1. History of emergencies, crime, and vandalism

What are the most common security challenges that the campus has faced? What are some of the more infrequent incidents that had the potential to be disruptive or dangerous?

By detailing each previous incident, you’ll get a better idea of the campus’ vulnerabilities and strengths. Taken together, this will help you to plan for the future.

2. Emergency response protocol

How does the school currently handle emergencies? Who are the stakeholders involved in incident response, what steps are taken to protect students and facilities, and how effective are these protocols?

3. Physical security technology

What types of physical security systems are already in place? Is the campus using analog cameras, multiple access control cards, or other outdated technologies? If so, now is the time to consider how to update the school’s systems—whether it’s all at once or gradually as budget allows.

4. Training of students and staff

How aware are students and staff of the issue of campus security? How prepared for an incident is each group?

At a growing number of K-12 and higher education campuses, school security and emergency protocol have become so important that they are part of both student and staff orientation and ongoing training. Find out how involved students and staff members are in the overall security discussion; in the future, you might recommend they are better looped in so that everyone on campus is aware of security and empowered to make it a priority.

5. Role of school security and police

How effective are campus security and school police at deterring, detecting, and responding to crime and vandalism? What are their roles during emergencies, and how well have they responded in the past?

Ideally, a school’s security and police force should strongly supplement any technology it has installed. If a lack of officers is creating a gap in coverage that additional technology could solve (or vice versa), be sure to include it in your assessment.

6. Use of mass communication technology

How does the school currently communicate with students, staff members, and the community during emergencies, severe weather, and other incidents? Its approach might include automated phone calls, on-campus digital signage, PA messages, social media posts or other means.

Look for any potential gaps in messaging; for example, if students are in their dorm rooms, how will they receive announcements? At K-12 schools, how will parents know when to pick up their children during an emergency? Once each angle is considered, look at how a multi-step approach to mass communication could help officials ensure that everyone receives these important messages.

Do you find security assessments to be helpful in planning a new installation? What other items do you think are important to include in an education physical security assessment?