By Bruce A. Canal, CPP, education segment development manager, Axis Communications.
From kindergarten to college, when parents send their children to school, they do so with the expectation that those children will be kept safe. Schools have long employed security tools ranging from security cameras and access control to bolt locks and metal detectors, but today’s technology has put unprecedented new resources at schools’ disposal.
Analog cameras have been phased out in favor of network cameras, and tools like access control technology have helped secure entry points and facilitate frictionless entry for students and staff. But while video surveillance and physical security tools have received considerable attention, there is another resource being deployed to secure schools and campuses throughout the word: audio.
Advancements in Sound Detection Have Changed the Game
You might be surprised about how often a security incident is preceded by a noise of some sort. That noise might come in the form of raised voiced, breaking glass, or even gunshots. Any or all of those sounds may indicate that a security incident is either taking place or is about to take place.
Today’s audio solutions can be trained to listen for specific sounds and relay security alerts to the appropriate personnel or authorities almost as soon as they occur. In the case of raised voices, school personnel might be able to arrive in time to defuse a situation before it worsens. In the case of breaking glass or gunshots, response time is even more critical.
Audio solutions can also provide a valuable safeguard against break-ins. Sensors trained to listen for breaking glass, slamming doors, or other signs of after-hours activity can raise the alarm, even in pitch darkness. If activity is detected in the middle of the night, the appropriate personnel can be notified, potentially giving law enforcement a valuable head-start on catching the perpetrator.
Especially when paired with video surveillance solutions, advanced audio can help security teams better understand what is actually going on—whether the responsible party is a burglar, a vandal, or just a bored student hanging around the school entrance.
Announcements Can Both Deter Crime and Safeguard Students
Any student is no doubt well acquainted with intercom systems. When I was in school, they were mostly used to announce morning updates or call someone to the principal’s office, but today’s intercoms are considerably more advanced.
They can be programmed to broadcast emergency announcements targeted to specific zones, allowing tailored broadcasts to keep students and teachers informed during an emergency. The ability to relay real-time information where it is needed most can make a big difference in the midst of a major security incident.
These announcements also have the potential to deter crime from happening in the first place. Criminals are often emboldened by the idea that they won’t be caught. If you can shatter that illusion by letting them know that their presence has been detected, many will abandon ship.
Modern audio solutions can be programmed to play an audio message in the event that a trespasser is detected, warning them that they are being captured on camera, or that the authorities have been notified.
While this may have the effect of allowing them to flee before law enforcement can arrive, it is well worth it if it prevents valuables from being taken or property damaged. Some solutions may even allow a security guard to provide a live warning directly to the intruder, further informing them that they are under active surveillance.
A Comprehensive Approach to School and Campus Security
Modern audio solutions are an invaluable complement to today’s advanced video surveillance, access control, and other security technologies. Whether the school in question is an urban elementary school or a rural college campus, the ability to provide security teams with an accurate and up-to-the-minute representation of what is happening at key locations and entry points is of critical importance.
As schools and campuses throughout the world look for new and innovative ways to keep their students safe, today’s audio solutions will be an important piece of the puzzle in any comprehensive security solution.