School Security for our New Normal and Beyond

October 27, 2020

The ongoing pandemic has forced schools and districts to change the way they operate. Depending on local guidelines, the new school year looks different than any other previous year. Some schools are reopening with precautions in place, others are choosing hybrid models, and some are conducting all classes online. As schools resume either in-person or via remote learning (or a hybrid of both), mass notification systems can quickly and effectively keep stakeholders and communities informed. This has become even more crucial recently because information changes rapidly and on an almost daily basis. Mass notification systems can help schools overcome the speed and reach of communicating with administrators, staff, students and the community at large.

One of the main reasons for the urgency in communicating is the quick shift in learning strategies should an outbreak occur and a school needs to move completely to remote learning. Quickly informing staff, faculty, students and the larger community of a potential case (i.e. contact tracing) is imperative. Additionally, informing the community about safety measures that are being put in place is also necessary in an emergency situation.

While the pandemic is a pressing concern for schools and universities, it does not make them immune to other dangers that can also threaten safety. Active shooters, parental consent, visitor management, campus activities, severe weather and other emergencies can all impact the well-being of students and staff. To help ensure that messages reach everyone quickly, schools can leverage the myriad of integrations many mass notification systems offer by connecting to different devices. These integrations can also help to connect disparate systems to make it easy to send alerts quickly, which gives security personnel more time to manage a response.

Multimodal Approach to Eliminate Missed Messages

Every second counts when an emergency occurs and ensuring no time is wasted is of the utmost importance. A missed notification about unwanted visitors can create safety issues. Missing a message about a change in a parent or caregiver picking up a child can at the very least, cause frustration and confusion, and more seriously could lead to custody and/or safety issues. Students and staff need to be reached wherever they are, and the biggest advantage of a mass notification system is that emergency messages can be sent remotely. Having multimodal means of communication – across a number of platforms – can reduce the possibility of messages being missed and help ensure the right people are notified in a timely manner. School Gate Guardian’s visitor management system comes with a mass notification system that uses a multimodal approach through emails and text messages.

Target Recipients

Messages can be specifically targeted so only the appropriate audience receives them. For example, a disturbance in the front office may only affect the administration, so that message can be sent to that subset rather than alarm students and faculty. But a larger safety issue with a school-wide threat will apply to everyone inside the building and maybe the surrounding campus as well.

Seamless Integration

The best systems connect to other tools schools already own, and School Gate Guardian’s mass notification system can integrate with any school’s Student Information System (SIS). Integrating the school’s messaging system into the SIS system ensures seamless data containment and when applicable, contact tracing. This way, should a student or multiple students, parents and the larger community need to be notified of any situation including a COVID outbreak, they can be looped in seamlessly.

While mass notification systems can be the first line of defense in keeping everyone safe, thermal screening systems and face mask detection have become the new norm as well.

Konica Minolta’s German-made MOBOTIX thermal cameras and face mask detection cameras combine these safety measures with the option for mass text alerting.

The Konica Minolta and MOBOTIX thermal screening station can be used as a frontline thermal screening process. Students, faculty and administration face the camera for surface temperature screenings while an operator views the thermal image reading. Screen alerts in red will identify any screening that is out of the prescribed range. For a more cost-effective approach, Kentix SMARTXCAN Thermal Sensors, paired with a MOBOTIX camera can also screen each person for temperature in a matter of seconds. Combined with a MOBOTIX camera, the thermal scan, as well as the person’s image, can be recorded. This adds an additional layer of protection to security protocol and ensures that staff, visitors and students adhere to mask-wearing guidelines.

Konica Minolta’s video management solution (VMS): MxMSP™/MxLINQ™ can not only detect temperatures and masks but it can also send network text alerts to key members of security and auditing teams. The software solution uses advanced neural network algorithms to detect the person’s face in the screen and then confirm if they are wearing a mask. This allows remote university and school managers to review and analyze an entire group of screening information by aggregating information from all cameras in multiple campus sites into one place.

This is not our typical school year, and Konica Minolta is not your typical partner for K12 and higher education solutions. We partner with several solutions providers to address the challenges schools and universities face trying to inform everyone and keep them safe. As we journey through the year, Konica Minolta can help school communities stay safe and protect each other. Check out our School Gate Guardian options and our MOBOTIX video management solutions online.

Stephanie Keer
Manager, Government and Education Solutions

Stephanie Keer is responsible for Konica Minolta’s Education and Government vertical markets, focusing on solutions that improve efficiencies in education. She is a Professor at NYU and the Lead Researcher of Living Values Education Organization. She is an avid scuba diver and meditator.