Aside from upgrading the functionality of fire safety solutions, several other systems are critical to consider to improve the overall security posture in and around facilities. In terms of improving response times and communication with law enforcement, integrators and school administrators should consider implementing panic alert systems in classrooms and offices. In the past several years, many states have approved “Alyssa’s Law,” making it mandatory for schools to implement a mobile panic alert system. These devices enable real-time communication between multiple first responder agencies and increase the rapidity of the notification process. Further, integrating automatically locking classroom doors, as well as automated lockdown systems at nearby schools, can provide an additional measure of positive control in a dynamic environment.
Another solution that should be considered is the use of gunshot detection systems. These systems identify the acoustical signature of weapon discharge with greater than 99.8% accuracy. Typically, these detectors can be spaced with the same coverage range as spot smoke detectors, although installation at specific areas of concern is sufficient in most cases to provide some form of coverage where none currently exists. The location of the detectors provides for calculated triangulation between devices to provide specific location information for the gunshot.
Integrators and administrators should carefully evaluate their own facility’s needs and devise an Emergency Response Plan (ERP), considering a multitude of factors including budget, student and faculty occupancy, and current security technology. Administrators must also consider the feasibility of these systems, potential risk, and the location of law enforcement.
When it comes to securing our schools, the right balance of fire safety systems, security technology, and communication devices can combine to create a fully integrated security system and a safer education environment for all.