On any given day in Colorado’s Littleton Public Schools district, more than 200 employees are using unified security technology to help keep students, teachers and staff safe. These employees — administrative assistants, before- and after-school care providers, health aides and coaches, to name a few — are not normally thought of as security professionals. But they still provide the critical human element needed for an effective school safety plan.
This human element is vital, but so is providing excellent, simple-to-use security tools that employees can implement in their daily routines. In Littleton, the district’s comprehensive security tools and technology are part of a unified system that consists of mechanical locks, access control, visitor management, video intercom, asset protection, duress, lockdown, mass notification, fire alarm, HVAC, refrigeration, video/audio analytics and weather stations. (It’s important to note that most of the security technology installed in the schools is powered by the internet. High-speed broadband is the nervous system of school security technology, which helps students concentrate on learning and teachers concentrate on teaching.) Empowering employees with these technologies allows them to do their jobs while assisting the school security staff in maintaining a safe learning environment.
Importantly, employees are trained in these technologies. Mass notification, for example, is fully incorporated into the district’s emergency protocols, and all staff and students are trained in its uses and impact. Staff and students also regularly drill on weather hazards, outside-of-school emergencies and active shooters.
There are also free tools available to help school officials install unified security systems. Littleton Public Schools used one of these resources, the Partner Alliance of Safer Schools (PASS) Guidelines, which include tiered security recommendations that can cater to schools’ unique needs. For funding, the district tapped the federal E-rate program to cover costs for 40 percent of the needed cabling and connections.
As school safety technology moves forward, it’s crucial for districts to embrace those technologies to help keep their students and staff protected.