|Facilities in the Excelsior Springs School District took a complete approach to security while also balancing centralized and decentralized functionality. Photo courtesy of Amag Technology|
While it may seem easy to address separate threats in separate ways, there are advantages to taking a more integrated approach to the use of security technology on campus.
No doubt, “the safety of our students is foremost in our minds,” says Excelsior Springs School District’s Director of Safety and Security Tom Mayfield. “In the U.S. in the last 50 years, no child has died in a fire in the public schools, but we’ve lost over 250 students to school shootings. It’s time to lock down schools and better manage disgruntled behavior.”
That is why John Lacy, the Missouri district’s deputy superintendent, persuaded staff and the school board to invest in an Amag Technology Symmetry Enterprise Security Management System and Symmetry Video System.
Close to 80 doors are controlled by proximity card readers and another 150 doors are monitored by the system. The system operates over the school’s IP network and integrates with 219 Bosch Security Systems and AXIS IP cameras.
Mayfield set four goals:
- Lock down schools at appropriate times.
- Reduce overnight vulnerability by protecting high tech computer equipment.
- Reduce bullying. If cameras are in the right places, it will be easier to see firsthand what happened and assess how to address the situation further.
- Create a resource tool for safety resource officers. SROs can view cameras to have a record of occurrences and take the appropriate corrective action.
To accomplish these goals, Excelsior Springs set out to control the traffic flow in and out of each school. Mayfield believes his seven buildings should be locked at all times, therefore all teachers, custodians and staff carry an access card to enter his/her designated building. As an example, at the high school, doors are locked at 7:35 a.m. and anyone who enters after that time enters through the mantrap doors. Once recognized by office staff and tardiness recorded, students can enter the school. Visiting parents and vendors are recorded as entering the building before entrance is granted.
There are both centralized and decentralized efforts.
Each school administrator/principal is responsible for his/her school’s activity schedule. Every week each school’s activity schedule is forwarded to Mayfield, who enters the data into the security system’s calendar, which automatically controls the locking and unlocking of the doors, based on the schedule for that week.
All administrators throughout the district have access in their own building to all cameras in each school district building. If there is an incident in one school, administrators can pull up the cameras and help direct emergency responders.
All Systems, a systems integrator, installed Symmetry Enterprise and Symmetry Video. Excelsior Springs was originally going to just remodel the front entrances to their schools to provide better security. But from the beginning, All Systems’ goal has been to provide tailored solutions, technical service and innovative project implementation. One additional benefit was seen during the graduation ceremony held in the high school’s large gymnasium each year. The gym is always filled to capacity, so chairs are placed in the adjacent commons to accommodate the overflow.
Six cameras, including two pan/tilt/zoom cameras, are in the gym. The IT staff was able to connect the cameras to monitors in the commons. Therefore, the overflow of family members and friends was able to watch the graduation as though they were in the gym. The PTZ cameras were manually controlled by a staff member so when the band played, the cameras turned that direction. The cameras moved as the graduating students crossed the stage and received their diplomas. “It worked well because we were able to avoid disappointing many people who couldn’t get into the gym,” says Mayfield.