Tuesday, March 13, 2012

5 Step Plan for Managing Campus Security

No matter what the campus or district size, schools nationwide always ask me, “What is the best place for me to start when putting together a safety and security plan for my district?”  At first, managing campus security can seem like a daunting task.  There are many critical components to keep in mind.  The school districts that I have worked with that have seen the best success have worked through these five steps toward managing their security. 

Step One: Establish a Visual Identification Policy
How are you currently identifying your students, faculty, staff and visitors?  If your campus does not have a visual ID for each one of these people currently, get a plan in place quickly.  Establishing a visual ID is the first step toward a more secure campus.  It offers everyone in the building a sense of security and community.  It also makes faculty feel more comfortable approaching those who aren’t wearing a badge and escorting them to the front office to a visitor check-in station where they can present ID and be assigned a visitor badge. 
Step Two: Do Not Underestimate the Importance of Managing Visitors
Whatever you do, you should not underestimate the importance of identifying your visitors.  Visitors are a critical component to your campus security.  Unidentified visitors can pose a severe threat to any organization or campus and without a record of their name and the time they checked in, you can never account for them having been in your building should an incident ever occur.  By ensuring all visitors check in every time they show up on campus AND wear a visitor badge at all times, you can easily differentiate guests from faculty with just a quick glance at their ID.
Step Three: Conduct Random Assessments to Ensure Everyone is Wearing Their ID
Appoint someone in each school to randomly count how many staff and students they see that aren’t wearing their ID badges.  If the system is being utilized properly, that number should be zero.  I have seen many schools implement penalties for faculty and students seen not wearing their photo ID on school grounds (ex: fines, detentions, etc).  If you implement a badging system and never enforce it after the fact, it will inevitably fall by the wayside.  Random or quarterly assessments help ensure your investment is protected. 
Step Four: Start Thinking about Physical Security
When thinking about physical security, the best place to start is the perimeter.  Can you traffic all of your visitors to one main entry point?  Hopefully you can and all those guests are checking in at your visitor manager station(s).  If you have one main entry point, have you locked down all your other doors during the school day, thereby guaranteeing that you won’t have any unwarranted guests or visitors? 
In the event of an event of emergency, do you have a lockdown or evacuation plan in place?  At this point, you have already implemented student, faculty and visitor identification badges on campus.  Your visitor management system should offer you an accurate list of all of the visitors on campus at any given moment.  If you combine that list with your other credentials, you can come up with a fantastic plan for better managing your evacuation policy and procedures. 
Step Five:  Implement Other Applications that Use Your ID Badges
In this day and age there are so many things you can do with ID badges besides using them as a means for photo identification.  The opportunities are almost endless.  Take your ID card to the next level with applications like access control, vending, cafeteria solutions, mustering, single sign on, etc. 
There are hundreds of applications available to you!  Explore your options and discover new ways to secure your campus and ensure the safety of your students and faculty, keeping in mind that the more integrated the solutions you choose to implement are, the easier they will be to manage. 
There is no guaranteed way to manage campus safety, but following these steps will help to guide you to a safer and more secure district for both students and faculty. 

Lindsay Cornell is the Director of Sales for BadgePass, Inc.  BadgePass manufactures cutting edge ID Badging, Visitor Management and Access Control software.  Visit www.badgepass.com for more information.