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Education Technology News: ADT Talks School Security with TMCnet

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August 22, 2011

ADT Talks School Security with TMCnet

By Carrie Schmelkin, TMCnet Web Editor

If you haven’t been to an elementary school recently, you may not be aware that in a lot of schools it has become a lot harder to just simple walk through the school doors. Instead of carelessly brushing pass a tired security guard sitting at a table, nowadays a lot of visitors have to page the main office and then wait as their credentials are verified.

One company helping schools stay safe and keeping kids out of danger is ADT Security, a company that has more than six million customers, has been in the security business for over 130 years and provides over 15,000 schools and 1,300 colleges and universities with security technology.

“One thing we are concerned about is that administrators still have the mentality that it can’t happen at my site or campus and I reiterate numerous times that it can happen anywhere and you have to be prepared and be proactive versus reactive,” Pat Fiel, school safety expert for ADT and former D.C school administrator, told TMCnet.

From placing video surveillance systems in hallways to helping to dissuade bullying to installing visitor monitoring systems that track identities, ADT offers all the latest education security technology.

The first thing that ADT does when a school enlists its help is conduct a risk assessment to determine how technology can help make the school safer. ADT checks out the campus entirely to discern where vulnerabilities are and then company officials determine how to reduce incidents. Finally, ADT incorporates a broad range of solutions. Having security measures in place is particularly paramount as evidenced by incidents such as Columbine and Virginia Tech – events in which days at school that should have been typical ended up turning into devastating massacres.

For K-12 schools, one of the most important security measures that can be taken is to make sure visitors are properly scanned, according to Fiel.

“If you as a visitor can walk into that campus unannounced and unchecked guest, well so can a bad guy,” he said.

One of the first things that ADT suggests installing is an initial access control system, which controls school entrance doors electronically. When visitors want to gain access to the building, they must push a button and wait for the main office to confirm if they can enter. Before the person even comes into the building, the system allows the main office to view them through video cameras and use voice recognition software to determine the person’s identity. 

This is particularly important when it comes to sex offenders as there are 739,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S., according to Fiel. The program allows the main office to not only check if the person is on that list, but if they are on the wanted list as well.

In addition to installing initial access control systems, ADT suggests using its technology to counter the rising growth of bullying.

“Right now in the K-12 market, bullying is a hot topic and there’s 160,000 kids that stay home every day because of bullying; 8.2 million students a year suffer from the hands of bullying,” Fiel said. “We figured out that we can be a resource to campuses by doing the risk assessment and also going around and checking areas that are vulnerable to bullying.” These areas include abandoned stairwells, empty classrooms and dark hallways.

By “adding more eyes” to those areas through security cameras, administrators are able to live monitor these spaces or consult video footage after the fact to determine what really happened during the bullying incident.

ADT is making just as big of a splash in K-12 schools as it is at colleges. Those universities that solicit ADT’s help can enjoy ADT’s security access control systems that can be placed in dorms, administrative buildings and other security sensitive buildings to make sure that only designated people can enter buildings. Moreover, ADT offers camera solutions for colleges.

“Cameras nowadays are so sophisticated because they have analytics as part of it,” Fiel said.

With school enrollment expected to grow at nine to 10 percent between now and 2018, the need for school security is only going to continue to burgeon.

“Security has to be on the same page as education nowadays,” Fiel said.

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Carrie Schmelkin is a Web Editor for TMCnet. Previously, she worked as Assistant Editor at the New Canaan Advertiser, a 102-year-old weekly newspaper, covering news and enhancing the publication's social media initiatives. Carrie holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and a bachelor's degree in English from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.


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