Improving School Security

An identity management solution

09/03/2009
security
SHANE CUNNINGHAM and JONATHAN BOWEN

After many instances of school violence over the past two decades, there has been a significant focus toward improving school security. Though leaps and bounds have been made in these areas by many schools, one of the more commonly overlooked areas of concern is identity management, which seeks to answer the following:

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  1. Who is on your grounds?
  2. When did they arrive and depart?
  3. What is the reason for their visit?

Though the primary purpose of most security systems is to protect students, faculty and staff, avoiding property theft and violence are also valid concerns for security. Another growing concern is the delivery of illegal drugs and other contraband to students on school grounds.

Though no system, short of a biometric scan and a full body X-ray, can completely clear an individual of all suspicion, there are several steps that can be taken to significantly enhance the ability to validate visitors. A solution that can keep track of everyone in your school, their access privileges to buildings and equipment, and their check in/out times, is strategic to successful facility management.

Though a full-fledged access control system is the recommended solution, it may not be fiscally reasonable for some schools. Those that lack an access control system may still benefit from gradually bringing their system up to current standards.

Following are three steps to take to control and limit access to your facilities and grounds.

Step 1

A good start is to limit the number of entry points to your buildings and grounds. By limiting access points, you can more easily manage who comes and goes. For instance, some colleges are now installing turnstile systems which are accessed with technologies from barcodes to biometrics.

Step 2

Another step forward is to designate a checkpoint to screen visitors by requiring valid identification.  Have visitors fill out a form that states the nature of their business and the party they wish to visit, review all bags or property they carry with them, and then escort them to the appropriate location. The visitor then is required to filter back through the same entry point to “check out” , again having their bags and pockets reviewed, and the time of their departure logged.

Step 3

A better solution may be an automated identification system, such as a scanner that can read a driver’s license, print a temporary ID or adhesive card, and log them in and out digitally. For regular visitors, such as volunteers, vendors or parents and guardians, annually printed identification cards could be issued. These should be worn in plain site by each visitor. Such solutions can also be tied to your student ID system for extra curricular activities or any other functions.

Whether the solution to your school’s visitor management needs would best be served by identification hardware and software or a manually administered screening program, greater focus on those entering and leaving your campus should be taken to ensure the safety of your personnel and property.

Shane Cunningham and Jonathan Bowen are responsible for Marketing Communications in the US and Canada at Digital Identification Solutions, a global provider of secure credential solutions for schools, universities, hospitals, airports, corporations and government agencies. For more information, visit www.dis-usa.com/SEEN.
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