What does campus safety mean to you? For many districts, “campus safety” can be traced back to a list of disparate technologies. In actuality, it should be thought of as a philosophy or an ecosystem that requires input and collaboration from all corners of the organization. The challenge is that the former (simply ordering and installing equipment) is fairly straightforward, while the latter is significantly more difficult to implement and requires a cohesive effort to bring the many moving parts together.
Here are 3 Common Misconceptions about Campus Safety Technology
1. Security Cameras Alone Make Your Campus Secure
Security cameras are a staple of any complete technology strategy, but when we ask district leaders about their campus safety plan, cameras are often the start and finish. Merely having cameras installed doesn’t stop an active threat. To be used proactively, a school would need a dedicated security staff with the sole purpose of monitoring the live feed. That's not at all realistic, so your best use of security cameras will be as a forensic tool after a crime has been committed. Cameras can be implemented in a way that helps deter criminal activity, but this is only effective if it’s strategically executed, and even then there are no guarantees. Security cameras are a necessary piece of the puzzle but cannot be the only campus safety measure you take.
2. Access Control is All You Need
While you’re installing security cameras, you might also be trying to ramp up security with a new access control system. This can be another effective tool, as it gives you the ability to monitor and record who enters and exists your building, but a complete security strategy cannot live on keycards alone. One common issue with relying on your access control system for campus safety is that it can quickly lose its efficacy if not backed with solid policy and logistics. If you don’t have a clear plan for the process and parties responsible for replacing lost keycards, removing access once it’s no longer necessary, and monitoring the success criteria, you’re placing blind faith in the technology. Additionally, we’ve seen recent tragic situations in which active threats caused potential victims to be locked out of school property, possibly increasing their vulnerability. Access control is another vital piece of a good campus safety strategy, but it’s not enough on its own.
3. A Paging System Means You’ve Got Safety Down
You have an emergency broadcast system, and you know how to use it. That’s great! It’s an excellent contribution to your overall strategy. It’s necessary for getting important information to the right people in an expedient manner (obviously important in an emergency situation), but it’s not the only tool you should have in your safety toolkit. The real issue here is that you need to have a larger strategy behind the technology. Are you noticing a theme here?
The potential drawback to simply making announcements without a strategy and specific guidelines is that you might actually be doing more harm than good. You could accidentally disclose the location of victims to the attacker. You might complicate the situation by letting parents know that there is a threat and cause a rush of traffic to the school, interfering with emergency services or law enforcement. Without careful planning and input from security experts, your paging system might not be that helpful during an emergency.
How Does Technology Become Effective?
Technology that effectively contributes to a safe campus has to be a part of an overall plan that includes universal buy-in and education for all involved parties—from superintendents and faculty to parents, students, and local authorities. It follows specifically outlined objectives with measurable success criteria. A good strategy also includes input from experienced third parties who help you look at the bigger picture. Technology is incredibly important, but it can’t be the only way you create a safer environment.
Take a look at our Campus Safety Checklist: