In light of recent school shootings, assaults, and natural disasters, campuses have begun placing more emphasis on safety. There are many different approaches to protecting students at school. Having stronger security doesn’t necessarily mean surrounding buildings with high fences, metal detectors, and armed guards — there is technology advancing campus security while still fostering a positive learning environment.
From intelligent lockers to personal safety apps, modern science means schools have plenty of options when it comes to bolstering security. Although some students and faculty may raise privacy concerns, many people are happy to appear on camera or use smart ID cards if they’ll be safer on campus. Here are a few of the most promising innovations improving school safety.
Indoor Positioning Systems (IPS)
IPS technology helps locate people inside a building using signals from Bluetooth devices. It can pinpoint people and important objects — such as an AED if someone is having a heart attack — in real time without verbal communication.
The technology can give dispatchers a detailed blueprint of the facility making a distress call. Emergency personnel can then see 360° views of each room and easily locate doors and windows to gain entry.
Gunfire Detection Systems
Much like smoke alarms detect a possible fire, gunfire detectors trigger an alarm if they think someone discharged a weapon. The sensors are so precise that they can identify the type of gun, the number of shots fired, and the shooter’s whereabouts. Emergency workers can then decide how best to respond and quickly tell students and staff what to do.
Smart Identification Cards
Another type of technology advancing campus security is smart identification. Most schools already use a student ID card system, so creating cards with a memory chip embedded in them isn’t too much of a stretch. These smart cards allow students to access buildings and can also serve as bus passes and debit cards.
Smart IDs are hard to forge due to their embedded memory chip. Anyone without a card may trigger an alarm when entering a campus building uninvited.
Secure package delivery and pickup systems can reduce incidents of theft. Intelligent lockers assign a unique QR code to anyone picking up a package. When a person goes to retrieve their delivery, the barcode automatically opens a locker door that contains only the recipient’s mail. The recipient then digitally signs for the package.
This self-service system operates night and day, allowing students to securely pick up packages without the risk of someone stealing them. Campuses can also install cameras around the lockers for extra security.
Another example of technology advancing campus security is the use of better cameras. Internet Protocol (IP) cameras have higher frame rates, resolution, and coverage than traditional closed-circuit television monitoring systems.
Because they record such high-quality videos, IP cameras can pick up on things like license plate numbers, facial features, and clothing details. They can easily detect movement and smoke. The cameras can also tilt to cover a greater range, as well as set off alarms and track people as they walk.
Mass Notification Systems
The ability to call or text every student on campus simultaneously is a mainstay of emergency responses. Sixty-five percent of public safety officials rank natural disasters as the number one threat to campus security, followed by crimes, terrorist attacks, and fires. Notification systems can inform students of when, where, and what is happening during an emergency, and how best to respond.
Mass text message notifications have their place, but only some schools have reliable Wi-Fi or cell phone service across campus, and not every student owns a smartphone. Many students also turn their phones off in the library or while working in a computer lab. One technology advancing campus security is the ability to send mass alerts to every desktop computer in the school network. This allows authorities to notify students of severe weather conditions, active shooters, or Amber alerts, for example.
Stronger Cybersecurity Measures
With schools more connected than ever, hackers have more opportunities to exploit network vulnerabilities. Cybercrime can affect everything from payroll to school security systems. In 2022, there was a 44% increase in cyberattacks on the education sector compared to 2021, with over 2,000 attacks happening every week.
Institutions can implement better cybersecurity operations by hiring qualified IT professionals, training staff and students on safe internet practices, performing regular system checks, and using zero-trust architecture in their networks.
Personal Safety Apps
Calling security or going to the campus police isn’t always feasible when a student witnesses suspicious behavior. However, with the use of smartphones, students can quickly connect with the security department through an app. People often feel more comfortable reporting crimes anonymously or by sending messages rather than identifying themselves.
Schools can subscribe to advanced security apps so students can take videos or discreetly record audio clips. Many apps also let students display their location with the push of a button so emergency dispatchers can send help. A secure server stores this information for law enforcement to review.
Visitor Management Software
A log that shows everyone visiting and leaving the school property is a crucial security feature. Visitor management software takes the classic paper sign-in sheet a step further, documenting everyone on campus and letting them enter buildings with a digital access code on their phone. When visitors leave, the system automatically signs them out and removes their access code.
Administrators can combine visitor management software with remote cloud-based technologies to operate door locks, look through security cameras, view security information, and send mass notifications to students and faculty with the click of a button.
Protecting Students at School
The technology advancing campus security ranges from simple, smartphone-based GPS monitoring to more advanced security measures like IPS systems that map out entire buildings. Using a combination of strategies gives institutions the best chance of bolstering their security and keeping students safe. Despite growing concerns about school security, rapid scientific advancements offer hope in these uncertain times.
Emily Newton is a tech journalist. As Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, she regularly covers science and technology stories. Subscribe to Innovation & Tech Today to read more from Emily.