As the pandemic continues to unfold, many schools have chosen to conduct classes virtually rather than in-person and school buildings have been left empty for durations longer than ever before. With less staff consistently working on school grounds, it can be easy to miss a potentially costly and time consuming emergency. Situations like a leaking pipe or a malfunctioning freezer can quickly go from a minor issue to a major problem if not dealt with as soon as possible. Without physical eyes on these situations, schools need to consider leaning more heavily on technology that can be their eyes and ears, such as environmental monitoring technologies that can allow administrators to monitor their school at all times, even when they’re not on-site.
How environmental monitoring works
Environmental monitoring allows schools to improve their situational awareness through a combination of sensors tied to an automated alerting platform. Sensors can be used to monitor a wide variety of real-time happenings on-site as the events unfold. For instance, sensors can be used to detect when a door or window is left open or broken, when a freezer’s temperature has risen too high, or whether the humidity level in a server room is elevated. When these sensors are connected through an automated alerting platform, an assigned individual or individuals can receive immediate alerts containing detailed information regarding the situation at hand. This means that if a sensor detects the temperature in the cafeteria freezer has risen above a safe temperature, an alert can automatically be sent to the school’s maintenance worker or entire team in real-time to quickly correct the issue early and remedy the situation. In this scenario, having access to this information could stop the costly loss of the school’s food inventory, saving the school money and unnecessary work.
Environmental monitoring and automated alerting can also improve the overall safety of any school. School buildings are already equipped with a variety of safety technologies such as camera systems, fire and smoke detection mechanisms, and door access control technologies. Normally, each of these systems run separately, which can be a challenge to manage and can limit their abilities. However, when tied onto one automated alerting platform, all of these systems can work together and schools can unlock their technology’s full potential.
For example, rather than a school’s cameras recording a log of footage to be viewed only after an incident has already occurred, with an automated alerting platform, their cameras can be utilized immediately to view an unfolding event and alert the proper individuals at the right time to address the issue. Take a break in, if door access control systems and cameras are tied into an automated alerting platform, the building administrator can be alerted that a door was opened when it should not have been, and can watch the path of the intruder in real-time - even sharing that real-time footage with authorities if given access. In the case of a fire, if a smoke detector were to go off in a school building, live camera feed can immediately be pulled from the nearest camera and sent via mobile or desktop alert to the proper personnel and even first responders. When provided with this information, staff and first responders can make informed decisions rather than simply relying on an alarm.
Integrating technology now to protect students long-term
Investing in and implementing this technology while students are currently out of school is not only helpful to preserve the building, but carries a two-fold benefit of being even more useful upon students’ return. By enhancing processes like door access, information exchange with first responders, and overall situational awareness, schools can achieve a more secure environment. Increasing the overall amount of information available to staff and responders can allow for the proper steps to be taken in any given situation.
For example, if a fire alarm is pulled, typically a school immediately evacuates despite not knowing who pulled the alarm or why. But with an automated alerting platform, every teacher/staff desktop in the school can receive an alert containing live camera feed of the area the alarm was pulled. If it is determined that there is a fire or that the alarm is legitimate, evacuation can begin and staff and students can properly avoid the potentially dangerous area of the school.
By integrating current technology, environmental monitoring technology, and an automated alerting platform, schools can respond to any situation that could occur in a school building whether students and staff are virtual or in-person. Whether dealing with inclement weather, a fire, a break-in, a leaking pipe, or anything else, an automated alerting platform provides a way to quickly acquire and deliver the important information to the right people. With the right information in the right hands, a school can ensure that an emergency is handled swiftly and properly, allowing to rest easy knowing that any emergency that occurs won’t go unnoticed or unattended.
Securing your school while there are few people there to watch it is undoubtedly important, but it’s even more important to secure your school for when it’s full of people. Ultimately, everything from ensuring there are no leaks in the pipes to monitoring the entryways isn’t to protect the building, but rather to protect the people that use it. Without the staff and students, there is no reason for any of the school property or its infrastructure.
With schools conducting e-learning, it’s the perfect opportunity to implement this technology now, while staff and students are away so that it can be fully functional to help with the transition back to in-person learning and distancing as they return. At the end of the day, people are our greatest asset, and protecting them and providing an environment that is safe and secure for them is the ultimate security goal. By investing in environmental monitoring, a school is not just investing in technology, but investing in the students, the teachers, and the staff that make up the community.