Security and Safety
By: Laurence Goldberg
The events of the last few years make one issue of paramount importance to parents, teachers and school administrators: safety. While technology cannot provide a panacea for all such concerns--particularly those related to internal threats--it can be used to enhance security, access control and communications within schools. These safety technologies should be used in conjunction with, not instead of, proven early interventions and preventive measures such as conflict resolution, bullying prevention and proactive outreach programs.
Developing a Meaningful Security Program
Metal detectors have become increasingly common at schools in large urban districts, particularly at the higher grade levels in which 10% or more of the schools nationwide currently use such detectors. Parents and community pressure will ensure that the use of such weapon-scanning technology continues to increase and expand to more schools and lower grade levels.
Another safety technology that has been around for awhile is video surveillance systems. Recent advances in digital technologies have lowered the cost and complexity of such systems, making all-digital video solutions attainable for more schools. In a digital system, video images are recorded on large hard drives, eliminating the need for unreliable tapes and making it easier to view and work with footage.
However, video surveillance systems may provide an exaggerated sense of security, so it is important to remember their limitations. First, the cameras only cover small areas of the building. While it may be useful to post cameras at a school's main entry points, providing comprehensive coverage of an entire building can be quite costly and complex, requiring multiple cameras, as well as extensive wiring, storage and viewing capabilities. The second limitation of such a system is that it is not inherently preventive in nature. The presence of many cameras in a school in and of itself does not significantly enhance security other than providing a measure of symbolic deterrence.
To really have an impact, surveillance cameras must be a part of a meaningful security program. At its most stringent, such a program would involve real-time monitoring by one or more administrators, school resource officers or security guards. These officials would need to spend a considerable amount of time scanning the output of multiple cameras and possess the ability to respond quickly to any disturbance - steps that are obviously not practical, nor desirable, for most schools.
The other option (and the one used by most schools) is to simply record the cameras' images for later review. This system may be useful for pinpointing student perpetrators of disruptive behavior and providing a record of any intrusion or infraction, but it will not deliver real-time security enhancement.
Advances in Biometrics
The most significant advances in school security technology are in the field of biometrics: the process of positive identification through the scanning of unique body characteristics such as fingerprints, eyes, facial features or voice patterns. A few schools have begun using biometrics for certain applications. A small number of educational institutions have also begun using biometric identification systems for student cafeteria purchases.
Another increasingly common application is the use of low-end biometric identification systems to authenticate users on educational networks in place of the traditional use of passwords. This involves using relatively inexpensive peripheral fingerprint readers that connect to existing computers, or finding one of the few manufacturers that have started integrating such readers into their products.
Still, the greatest potential for biometrics in enhancing the school environment is in providing access control, positive identification and a record of those entering and leaving school buildings. Some higher education institutions and a handful of K-12 schools from around the world have implemented comprehensive access control and identification systems using biometrics.
Biometric technology has matured considerably in the last few years, with accuracy rates going up and costs coming down. Iris-recognition systems may have the highest reliability rate (with some manufacturers claiming accuracy in excess of 99%) and, like the less accurate fingerprint authentication systems, have now reached commodity-level pricing.
Thus, it has become realistic to consider implementing biometrics on a system-wide basis in schools. It is also undeniable that a reliable access control and identification system combined with effective entry policies will substantially enhance the security of any school environment.
School Safety, the Internet and Computers
By Ken Trump
Computers and other technology play a valuable role in today's learning environment. Unfortunately, with the good comes the bad, and the inappropriate use of computer technology by some students warrants closer attention to school safety issues associated with the Internet, computers and associated technology.
Here are several tips for school officials:
- It has been said in the past that Art and English teachers are in good positions to recognize early warning signs of violence in students' drawings and poems. Today, we have to that list any adult who works with kids using computers since young people use them so much as a part of their daily lives. Artistic work, word processing assignments, and other student computer work could provide a "red flag" of potential signs of violence and safety concerns if adults are alert.
- Schools should have "acceptable use" policies for use of school computers and clear consequences for those who violate such policies. There are numerous examples of computer misuse: Kids using school computers to make counterfeit money; students coordinating a gang fight online; and even a story in the Houston area where students allegedly placed keystroke monitors on their teacher's PC to gain information on test content and/or answers.
- The best line of defense for avoiding student misuse of, or potential harm caused by, computers (whether at school or at home) remains active adult supervision. While parents should not allow students to spend hours in their rooms in computer chat rooms, sending e-mail, or surfing the Internet, the same concept applies in schools: adult monitoring and supervision.
- Internet filters, having students log in and out with individually identifiable accounts, strong firewall and associated anti-hacking protection of computers, and related strategies can also help school officials reduce safety risks. School officials should also employ adequate physical security measures to protect the increasingly high-value equipment housed in schools.
- School officials should periodically do searches of their school names on Google and other search engines to see what pops up. It would not be surprising to hear that a school official found out that an unofficial Web site or chat room exists for their school. Educators may also pick up on other leads of potential problems or conflicts, troubled students, etc.
- Education and awareness is critical. We have to educate teachers about how computers and related technology being used in schools can be misused by individuals with bad intentions. Many adults, including parents and school employees, are playing catch-up with the kids in their understanding of technology. We need to level the playing field by better educating adults, including parents. We also need to better educate kids about Internet predators and related safety threats online.
Copyright © 1996-2005 by National School Safety and Security Services. All rights reserved. This article is a reprinted with the one-time permission of National School Safety and Security Services ( www.schoolsecurity.org ) and further reproduction is prohibited without the advanced written permission of Kenneth S. Trump.
CompuGuard CornerStone from Centurion Technologies
To combat the vulnerability of classroom computers to malicious spyware and viruses caused by the use of the Internet, Centurion Technologies has developed CompuGuard CornerStone for Windows 2000/XP. The hard drive is write-protected with this unique product, allowing students to surf the Web and download games and music - and all the spyware attached to them - without the worry of causing system damage. Since all changes are saved to a temporary storage space, every unwanted and unknown change is erased when the system is rebooted. This software includes some exclusive features like a "persistent storage" area for saving important information locally, a USB storage device blocking option, and an "OOPS!" function, which allows administrators to change protection status without a reboot. CompuGuard CornerStone provides a faultless system all the time, every time.
Expiring School Visitor Badges from Temtec
Expiring visitor ID badges from Temtec are a cost-effective and convenient way to enhance any school's security protocol. When guests are issued TEMPbadge expiring badges, all school personnel, not just trained security guards, will be able to spot guests whose badges have expired. Once a badge has expired, it cannot be reused. This eliminates the risk of unauthorized badge reuse, so there's no need to worry about collecting used badges. To activate the expiration process, simply apply an adhesive timing circle to the badge. The rate of expiration is determined by the timing circle, which turns orange within a half-day or one-day. This simple addition to your security practices can improve the school's safety without inspiring fear in your visitors-security with a smile. The TEMPbadge line of products includes visitor ID badges, sign-in systems, expiring parking permits and more. www.temtecid.com
VBrick Systems, Inc. provides complete solutions that capture live real-time video, store it and then manage the delivery of the video over local area networks and the Internet. VBrick's award winning standards based solutions provide full-screen, full-motion, DVD-quality viewing on network attached PCs, televisions or PDAs. EtherneTV allows school administrators, principals and teachers to deliver news, cable TV or events or view sensitive areas from their PCs or network-connected TVs. In addition, video can be streamed over the Internet for remote surveillance. The system comes with an easy-to-use menu for selecting any available video stream. The output from any camera can be recorded onto a Video-on-Demand server for later review.
Network Video Management (NETVM) offers a complete range of solutions from a single camera to multiple locations and multiple cameras. D3Data's product family includes: NETVM 10, 20, 40, 80, and Unlimited; and Enterprise Controller. NETVM 10, 20, 40, 80, and Unlimited software packages provide browser-based access to IP cameras installed on the client's network. NETVM is an industry-proven video recording solution that allows you to choose your own server. ETVM is camera and server-agnostic, providing the power of a network video solution without purchasing proprietary black box technology.
Astaro develops a complete line of network security products, including the Astaro Security Gateway line of security appliances and Astaro Security Linux, a software-based solution. All Astaro products offer eight critical security applications--firewall, VPN gateway, anti-virus, intrusion protection, spam filtering, spyware protection, anti-phising and content filtering--fully integrated on a single management platform. Astaro's software has won numerous industry awards. Astaro is protecting over 20,000 networks in 60 countries.
Brethren Security Consultants
Brethren Security Consultants was designed with Christian security in mind. Churches, Christian schools, and colleges have few options when it comes to security and related issues. Brethren Security Consultants is designed to help you develop security plans for your church and school. They can advise you with existing plans, security questions, and general knowledge that government and secular security companies aren't willing to share with Christians. Christians should be able to rely on Christians, and this is true for the issues and areas involving security. They offer risk assessments and mitigation analysis, along with issues that involve worldly problems that invade the homes, schools, and churches. Where can you turn when you don't know what to do and the local police department isn't interested in helping you? How do you know if a worldly alarm company is giving you the right information or if a problem in your school may turn into a crisis? Brethen Security Consultants are here to answer these questions and more.
Roving Planet's Enterprise Solution for K-12
Roving Planet's Wi-Fi management solutions give individual K-12 schools, as well as entire districts, centralized power and control over their entire wireless infrastructure. Roving Planet Business Commander is a full-featured, cost-effective Wi-Fi security and management solution specifically designed for the needs of the individual school. Business Commander provides user authentication management, secure guest access for visiting staff and parents, as well as a granular audit trail for extensive record keeping. Roving Planet's Network Commander provides a centralized solution to control wireless LANs across entire school districts. Network Commander secures the entire network in addition to enabling user authentication and guest access capabilities identical to Business Commander.
The Guard IT system is a dedicated firewall/gateway Internet security solution for your network. The software includes a stateful firewall, anti-spam protection, antivirus prevention tools, true content filtering, intrusion detection, intrusion prevention, security tools, and more. Guard IT includes integrated gateway services that update, manage and monitor your systems. Guard IT features an easy-to-use Web-based administration tool. The reporting features allow for multiple security audits, including Web filtering, intrusion detection, spam logs and more. Its functionality allows for basic or detailed administration. Guard IT is the all-in-one network security system made simple.
Are you aware of the extreme danger that exists on the Internet? Many individuals are falling prey to the temptation of viewing Internet pornography with devastating effects upon individuals, families and marriages. Remove online temptation and secrecy of use with Covenant Eyes. How does Covenant Eyes work? Covenant Eyes removes the temptation and secrecy of using the Internet by recording every Web site visit, and e-mailing a report of this activity to one or two accountability partners of your choosing. Covenant Eyes is not a filter and cannot be bypassed. www.covenanteyes.com