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 School."
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 later on."
Andrea L. Geddes was former online editor at Buildings.com.