Schools are pouring a flood of money on safety products. Yet, according to a new report from Parks Associates, there hasn’t been enough thought about how products can be leveraged to better respond to violence in schools.
The market research and consulting company in Edison, Texas, noted in its report that schools have promoted access control practices, the use of faculty badges and security cameras for nearly 20 years, but the measure does not adequately secure schools. have found. violence.
Citing data from the School Survey on Crime and Safety, the report said that during the 2017-18 school year, 71% of schools experienced at least one violent incident, and 21% reported one serious violent incident. experienced. The National Center for Education Statistics released similar figures for the 2019-20 school year.
“Although these data points are from a variety of organizations, the numbers show a 4% increase in serious violent incidents even though the use of surveillance cameras, access control and other security systems on school grounds is at an all-time high,” wrote author Parks . President and CMO Elizabeth Parks and research intern August Ward.
“Schools are spending a lot of money on security products, but they don’t do a great job at thinking through feedback,” said Mark Hatton, CEO of MutualLink, a provider of interoperability security solutions based in Wallingford, Conn.
“All of those security products are produced proof after the fact. They haven’t been coordinated and considered for response,” Hatton told TechNewsWorld.
better access control
The report notes that evolving school safety technology is providing increasingly efficient support to first responders.
“Advanced technologies increasingly give first responders a lot of additional information about what’s happening in the environment without relying on humans to relay that information,” Parks told TechNewsWorld.
The report noted that access control systems allow people to skip the step of tracking the closing of doors. Access control systems enable people to control whether the doors have been locked or not.
In the Uvalde tragedy, it added, a school door that would normally have been closed was left open, allowing gunmen to enter. A machine locking system may have prevented this.
The report indicated that advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning could also accelerate reaction times. AI and ML can identify suspicious activity, identify dangerous objects, recognize patterns and organize data and evidence, it continued. These are powerful capabilities to improve safety and response times, especially when this can happen without the assistance of an operator.
However, Parks said that automation should not be a substitute for human intervention. “Technology and automation should be used not to replace humans but to provide better information to humans so that humans can respond better,” she said.
Dot Blackwell, the superintendent of Vassar Public Schools in Vassar, Michigan, however, believes that school safety technology is less effective at addressing violence problems when it relies on staff for monitoring or management.
Vassar Public School, 45 minutes from Oxford High School, the scene of a mass shooting in November 2021 that killed four students, and injured seven people, including a teacher, recently installed a new security system called ZeroEasy. was done.
ZeroEyes works with existing video surveillance systems at a school to identify firearms. It can alert first responders of a potential threat in three to five seconds – even though the image of a threat must pass human muster before it can be forwarded to the appropriate authorities.
Blackwell told TechNewsWorld, “ZeroEyes Technology is the first product our school district has discovered, offering an innovative way to monitor activities in our buildings and our parking lots that could give us precious minutes to save lives.” Is.”
press panic button
Another technology cited in the report is panic devices that enable emergencies to be reported without explanation. In some respects, technology is more efficient and effective than humans.
MutualLink can amplify information sent to first responders before tools such as panic buttons.
“When you press a panic button, in about four seconds, the school’s floor plan along with the camera feed is sent to the police,” Hatton explained.
“The fact is, if someone wants to cause harm, they are likely to enter the school,” he said.
“When security products designed to keep intruders out of school fail to do so, MutuLink may immediately share information about those products with police.”
“MutualLink converts day-to-day security products into effective response products,” Hatton said.
Technologies need to work together
The report also referred to the Personal Emergency Response System. It explained that the PEAR device enables school staff with just the press of a button to contact first responders when needed. According to the report, the technology can improve and simplify response times, which is one of the most important problems with threats operating on campuses.
One of the benefits of the devices mentioned in the report is their low cost, which is why they are being used more frequently in schools. However, one challenge with this technology and security systems, in general, are false alarms.
According to Parks’ research, nearly half of security owners say their security system triggers too many false alarms. Additionally, 62% of home security owners report experiencing one false alarm in the past 12 months, and about 10% report having experienced more than five false alarms in the past year.
The report states that a number of technologies must work together to effectively secure a school. Every school has a different layout, population size, and funding, which means that one set of security solutions will not work for everyone. Every state, it continued, has different rules and grant systems for their schools, which in turn makes it difficult to integrate security companies nationwide.
Time will tell how these new technologies perform, Parks’ report predicts. School safety technology is beneficial, but currently, more metrics are needed to evaluate the technology used for school safety. It noted that the technology cannot guarantee flawless defense against security breaches and threats. Nevertheless, it can help reduce the likelihood of a dangerous situation occurring and create efficiency in emergency response.
“How can we stop school violence is a million dollar question,” Parks said. “I don’t know if we have the answer yet. But any threat to the safety of children in school is the best answer we can have.”