In the wake of the tragic Nashville school shooting on March 27, securing school campuses and protecting the next generation of children has been at the forefront of public conversation.
But while legislation regarding issues like gun control may be slow-moving– and widely variable depending on the state– there are other safety measures that can be immediately taken. Most notably, the implementation of robust video surveillance systems.
Still, whether or not schools should utilize security cameras on campus is one of the largest ongoing debates today. And before any school district opts to invest in video surveillance, it is crucial to weigh the pros and cons.
Pros Of Video Surveillance In Schools
As schools across the nation witness an increase in crime, many districts have already turned to video surveillance and other access control devices to increase safety.
According to federal data released in January, approximately 66% of U.S. public schools now control school ground access. Additionally, 43% of public schools have implemented “panic buttons” or silent alarms that can directly contact police in the event of an emergency.
This is because video surveillance, along with other integrated access control devices, can help reduce crime in a myriad of ways.
Primarily, simply having video cameras on school campuses can act as a deterrent for potential perpetrators. If it is well-known that the grounds are heavily surveilled, the risk of there being video evidence will often discourage theft, vandalism, mischief, and other threats.
Video surveillance can also help keep staff and security guards informed regarding who is on campus– and what they are doing– during school hours. This is critical for maintaining a safe environment and may help personnel identify any intruders, unauthorized visitors, or students engaging in illegal or harmful activities. Afterward, they can respond to incidents proactively.
In the unfortunate event that a crime does take place on campus, having surveillance cameras will also provide valuable evidence that both law enforcement officers and school administrators can use to assist investigations, identify suspects, and determine appropriate responses.
Finally, integrating video surveillance systems with on-site security guards is a much more cost-effective security measure compared to hiring additional security guards alone. Security cameras can provide security guards, and first responders, with valuable information showing a broader view of the facility to see if there is more than one intruder and where that person or persons are to better direct on-the-ground personnel. At the same time, these systems can be monitored remotely– allowing administrators to keep a close eye on multiple areas of campus at once– and enabled for other access control device integrations.
School Surveillance Cons
At the same time, one of the largest concerns in the debate about school surveillance is the potential for invasion of privacy. Students and school staff alike may feel uncomfortable knowing that they are being recorded and monitored. And while video systems on school campuses are common and legal, irresponsibly-installed cameras– such as in private or hidden areas– can worry students, parents, and staff.
That’s why, when implementing a new video surveillance system, it is crucial for schools to have transparent policies regarding footage access and use. Additionally, administrators can educate staff members, students, and parents about the surveillance system’s intentions– stressing safety and security as its main priority.
Another downside related to school campus surveillance is the fact that video monitoring can create a false sense of security. Of course, video surveillance can act as a deterrent to crime. But it is not enough to depend on a video security system alone for overall safety.
Instead, school districts must fight against complacency and allocate equal attention to other coinciding safety measures– such as educator training, student interventions, and on-campus security personnel.
Finally, there is also always a risk of technical malfunctions or system failures– which can render video surveillance systems ineffective when they are needed the most. To avoid this, be sure to use a trusted security partner who offers responsive customer service and staff member training. This can help mitigate instances of downtime and empower school personnel to rectify any malfunctions in a timely manner.
Video Surveillance Recommendations For Campuses
When deploying a video surveillance system on a school campus, it is critical to cover all bases. This includes not just the interior of the school but also the surrounding grounds.
License plate recognition and CCTV cameras can be installed in parking lots, sports fields, and around the school’s perimeter to help school staff monitor daily visitors, large crowds, and vast spaces that are difficult for security personnel to manually surveil.
Each school exit and entry space should also be covered. Video intercom systems are extremely viable options for these locations since they combine video security and access control. Dome and bullet cameras can be beneficial as well, utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) to detect any unusual motion or activity.
Finally, school hallways, cafeterias, and auditoriums are environments well-suited for video surveillance since they hold large groups of people at one time. Multidirectional cameras are a great cost-effective option for these spaces since they cover a wide area and can recognize incidents via built-in analytics. Corner security cameras are a viable option as well since they are built to withstand vandalism attempts and offer a wide field of view for large, heavily trafficked areas.
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