Drug-sniffing dogs, armed police officers, metal detectors, security cameras.
The requirements for a prison? No. The nation's public schools.
During the last decade, violence in U.S. schools has reached epidemic proportions.
So much so that for many school boards, protecting students is on the agenda
more than items that address their educational needs. For the safety and security
industry, this focus on protecting America's children has become a priority
and a challenge.
Ortega InfoSystems Inc., Santa Clara, CA, has created a remote video surveillance
system, FacilitySm@rt™, that provides school officials, law enforcement,
and emergency medical teams with "eyes into the buildings," enabling
them to respond to any crisis in a timely and safe manner.
The security system was deployed in the spring during a mock disaster training
exercise at Beulah High School in Lee County, AL. The system provided an Internet-based
security solution that allows authorized personnel to monitor and control facilities
from anywhere, anytime. Its unique capabilities provide instant information
for monitoring access control, video, security alarms, or other building systems
from any PC or hand-held device with a web browser.
"Unfortunately, violence continues to erupt on school campuses across
the country," explains Steve Chu, president of Ortega InfoSystems. "Children
deserve to feel safe when they're at school. We welcomed participation with
Safe Schools America on this project and the opportunity for law enforcement
to evaluate our FacilitySm@rt system under crisis conditions at Beulah High
Another recent introduction is Decatur, GA-based Videolarm®'s PolEvator™,
a unique, patent-pending process that allows domes and housings to actually
be lowered for service and repair. Lowering is accomplished using a 9.6V or
higher drill, and takes less than three minutes.
Because well-lit school parking lots, campus sidewalks, and building facades
are important safety features, the PolEvator allows service personnel immediate
access to change burned-out domes in just a couple of minutes.
"We have been in the security field about 25 years and the educational
field really has begun to see a dramatic increase in security maybe in the last
10 or 11 years," says Scott White, marketing coordinator for Videolarm.
"All we have to do is go back and look at some of the school shootings,
and some of the rules that schools now have with the zero tolerance."
Since the company's founder invented the outdoor dome, Videolarm has been providing
innovative service to the surveillance industry. The company also provided the
world's first pressurized outdoor dome and bullet-resistant dome.
Schools are now "very careful about the students … what the students
bring into the schools and what the students are doing. Surveillance, of course,
has become a good way to check on the students so schools can have a record
of what has been going on," says White.
The DeKalb County School District, in the Atlanta area, has Videolarm's RC200
manually rotating housing placed in the ceilings of most of its middle and high
schools, says White.
"These are used to watch the students and monitor what's going on,"
he says, "in case there's a problem or they need a record of something
Andrea L. Geddes was former online editor at Buildings.com.