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Security Assessments for Educational Facilities

The level of trust placed in educational institutions on a daily basis truly cannot be measured, so it goes without saying that ensuring the effectiveness of all existing security systems is of foremost importance.

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The level of trust placed in educational institutions on a daily basis truly cannot be measured, so it goes without saying that ensuring the effectiveness of all existing security systems is of foremost importance.

At secondary schools, prep schools, colleges and universities, there is no greater priority than the safety of the students, faculty members and employees who spend so much of their time there. The level of trust placed in these institutions on a daily basis truly cannot be measured, so it goes without saying that ensuring the effectiveness of all existing security systems is of foremost importance.

Given the critical nature of ensuring a safe community for everyone, it becomes imperative that assessments of all security measures be performed, and all necessary upgrades be implemented in a timely manner.

The first step with any security assessment begins with a study of the current security measures used to protect the campus and surrounding grounds. This is a detailed audit of the entire institution—physical facilities, current security systems, traffic flow, architectural drawings, lighting, surveillance monitoring, utility protection, intrusion detection, ID protocols and more. This inventory, along with a site survey and physical inspection of the campus, will provide a roadmap for what’s there, what’s not there, what works well and what needs improvement when it comes to mitigating against potential threats or emergencies.

There are a number of important questions that need to be asked during this initial study. Who has access to the campus? What control systems are in place to monitor outsider access? Are there parts of the campus that are more exposed than others? What are the heaviest and lightest traffic times on the roads, sidewalks and within the buildings and dormitories? Once these questions are asked, threat levels have been assessed and command centers have been evaluated, the next step is the risk analysis.

This is where critical assets are identified and their vulnerabilities assessed under the current security arrangements against the most likely types and levels of “threat” to those assets. A key part of this analytical process is the completion of a consequence analysis of potential threats, which consists of assessing the consequences of a security breach and the probable costs affixed. Viable protective alternatives are then reviewed to determine the most cost-efficient measure available to protect against the risk.

An evaluation of the operating environment would be the next step in the risk analysis process. The methodology used in this process would include: physical observation of the applicable environment, facilities and operations; review of existing security policies and procedures; review of past critical incidents; evaluation of current security systems and hardware, to include access controls and monitoring systems; coordination with the police force, local law enforcement, and public safety agencies; and interviews with various user groups.

Once this groundwork has been done, the findings can be analyzed and alternatives can be identified. It is here where modern solutions can be suggested and implemented, including the newest security technology and other state-of-the-art products and services.

Throughout the security survey process, sensitivity must be paid to balancing effective security measures with the necessity to maintain an efficient and productive workplace and visitors’ environment. Given the multi-use nature of most campuses and the variety of occupants and visitors to the facilities, it will be necessary to carefully weigh the need to protect the human and physical resources within the complex against the requirement to ensure the smooth operation of the facilities and to maintain a receptive environment. The good news is through the effective application of sound security procedures, equipment and personnel, such an objective can be achieved and the right recommendations can be made to ensure the safety of everyone on the premises.

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