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Editor Introduction

Headlines of violence in our schools are a reminder of the need to keep educational institutions safe. In fact, if there is a positive aspect to the constant bombardment of headlines, it is that it keeps our attention perpetually focused on how to improve school security. But what is the role of physical security systems? As the new school year begins, we asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: 

Are schools safer because of physical security systems? Why or why not? 

There is no doubt that schools are safer as a result of physical security systems. Though no individual technology will, by itself, reduce harmful behavior to zero, it’s important to look at what technology makes possible when it comes to responding to potential threats. Some prominent examples of ways schools choose to increase safety is through the expansion of camera footprints to ensure there are no blind spots, making video accessible in short order to first responders, securing facilities by reducing access to points of entry, and the ability to recognize and alert based on weapons detection. There are huge benefits to the application of even a single one of these strategies, but school environments are becoming much more thorough in devising and deploying a comprehensive multi-pronged approach that overlaps these technologies and increases school safety.

Editor Summary

It takes a comprehensive approach to keep students and staff safe at school, including such elements as maintaining a positive school climate and implementing student mental and behavioral well-being programs. In addition to strategies to prevent and mitigate violence, there is an important role to play for physical security systems, from access control to video surveillance to broader systems that are combined and interconnected into a more cohesive whole. Physical security technology is a core component of an effective protocol for school security. 

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