One of the best ways to strengthen security in schools and on campuses is to employ strict access control. Forcing students and faculty to go through slow, strict checkpoints can be a major problem, but that doesn’t mean schools should ignore the importance of access control. Once students and staff are secure in the building, it’s important to keep unwanted guests out for the remainder of the day. There are a few best practices to consider when deciding on how to manage access control for your school or campus.
It’s good practice to identify and define all perimeters on school grounds. The outer perimeter is the easiest to identify, but one of the most difficult to monitor and protect. Creating some sort of barrier that defines this perimeter can be more helpful than you might think, even if it’s something as innocuous as a hedge fence. Clearly defined boundaries let people know once they’ve stepped onto the property of the school and indicate that the grounds are monitored and protected. From there, define common areas and classrooms. You can create signage or indicators that let people know which perimeter they’re entering and send a message that every area is carefully defined and monitored.
Schools and campuses need to be accessible for students and faculty, but leaving too many doors open to the public also makes the grounds vulnerable to intrusion. Minimize entryways to make it easier to monitor the flow of people. Having too many access points can make it difficult for administrators and security personnel to properly monitor all points, and it can result in too much data that can’t be easily assessed. Pattern recognition is a key component of school and campus security that helps administrators and security personnel catch unusual behavior faster.
For some schools, an entry vestibule (also called a mantrap) can be used to tighten security at entry points. A vestibule is essentially a small room surrounded by windows with an open door that leads to the outside and a locked door that leads to the inside. Once a person enters from the outer door, they have to wait for administrators to let them through the secure door which gives them access to the inside of the school building. This isn’t the right option for every situation, but it can greatly reduce risk during operating hours when students are in the building.
Monitor Vulnerable Areas
Make sure security cameras are installed at entry points and in vulnerable areas such as emergency exits that can’t be fully secured. Keeping an eye on any weak points ensures that you will catch anyone attempting to breach these areas to gain access to the building without going through the proper security channels. Keeping cameras and security personnel trained on vulnerabilities and blind spots in the camera system will greatly reduce the risk of someone breaking through multiple perimeters without being caught.
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