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Spring 2019 Issue One
Lorrie Owens
Plugged in: to School Safety
President Elect's Message by David Goldsmith

I’m sure we’ve all heard (or lived) the all-too-familiar refrain that begins something like “if it plugs in, then it’s I.T.’s problem…” While there may be a scant bit of hyperbole in that statement, today it rings true as internet-connected devices (IoT) proliferate to the nth degree around us and into our network environments. While IT has always been central to schools’ digital security, one area in particular that has recently shifted to an IT area of responsibility is an especially critical one: school campus safety and security. Since the still inconceivable tragedy at Sandy Hook, nearly 90% of US schools and districts have taken steps to change security policies, personnel, and facilities in and effort to make their school campuses the safe haven they were once believed to be. In addition to, and as a direct result of these changes, technology has taken on a much larger role in assisting with the physical safety and security of our schools. New and existing technologies have been developed and adapted to directly address districts’ mission of keeping their campuses safe. According to the RAND Corporation’s 2016 publication “The Role of Technology in Improving K-12 School Safety.", there are no fewer than twelve categories of school safety technologies in use to varying degrees in US schools. While each district needs to survey and assess their own risk areas and determine which solutions best address their specific needs, there are several widely-used technologies to consider that, combined with policies, procedures, continuous staff training, and collaboration with public safety organizations, can help strengthen our schools’ safety initiatives.


In addition to natural and constructed barriers that direct and control where a person must go to enter a school facility, electronic access control systems are becoming more prevalent in further restricting school access to authorized persons. These technologies include electromagnetic door and gate locks that can be remotely secured via a variety of credential types, as well as rapidly unlocked during an evacuation. The shift to IP-based access control solutions has unlocked an entirely new set of possibilities. Being an IoT device, these systems are able to connect with other security systems such as IP security cameras, identification systems, and emergency alert systems, creating a multilayered solution to securing physical access to and from the campus.


Every school requires visitors to sign in at the front desk, but simple pen and paper doesn’t quite cut it anymore. Visitor management and/or ID management systems let administrators know who is in the building, where they are, and distinguishes those who have authorized access from those who do not using a variety of connected data sources. Some of the more advanced features of these solutions make use of facial recognition and biometric identification technologies.


Not a new technology, but IP-based security cameras and video management systems have ushered in much more effective options for securing and monitoring critical locations on campus. Advanced motion detection analysis and facial recognition features, as well as high-resolution imaging and interconnectivity with other security systems, have made video surveillance systems a key element of most districts’ safety and security initiatives.


Effective school communications systems now reach far beyond the typical classroom paging of generations past. Emergency notification features layered onto school and district-wide communications platforms are the established norm, and the integration of IP-enabled endpoints and interconnectivity with other physical systems have proven to be effectual additions to schools’ safety procedures. Panic buttons, digital signage, 911 alerting, enhanced broadcast messaging, facility lockdown and evacuation management…these are just a few of the valuable tools that current emergency notification systems can bring to the table.

Publications Library

Item Name Posted By Date Posted
Fall 2019 PDF (23.28 MB) Administration 12/13/2019
Summer 2019 PDF (3.67 MB)  more ] Administration 7/23/2019
Spring 2019 PDF (4.75 MB)  more ] Administration 7/23/2019
Fall 2017 PDF (6.64 MB) Administration 5/13/2019
Fall 2018 PDF (41.2 KB) Administration 5/13/2019
Spring 2018 PDF (4.48 MB) Administration 5/13/2019
Winter 2018 PDF (2.68 MB) Administration 5/13/2019