Guide to School CCTV for Access Control Security

Guide to School CCTV for Access Control Security

The tragedy of recent events shines a blinding light on the need to heighten security within schools. Learning environments should be safe for students, teachers, staff, and parents, and schools are under more pressure than ever to ensure that their security system is effective. 

Gun violence is understandably at the forefront of everyone’s minds, but the issues within schools don’t end there; bullying, widespread violence, and abusive behaviors must also be managed, and integrated security cameras can play an important role. 

Integrating security cameras with access control systems

Access control systems allow schools to manage and monitor who can access the facilities, giving them a real-time snapshot of everyone’s whereabouts. By integrating CCTV (closed-circuit television, or video surveillance) with access control, the systems can operate in tandem and communicate with one another, enhancing real-time monitoring and response times, as well as allowing for remote management. 

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), over 80% of public US schools feature a school security camera system. These systems not only bolster security and improve emergency response times, but they send a strong message regarding the school’s stance on zero tolerance for unlawful behavior. 

School security camera best practice

A report on the use of security cameras in schools found that their effectiveness heavily depends on how they are deployed. Some of the critical points regarding best practices for school security camera systems are:

  • Carefully determining the areas where cameras would be best utilized (i.e., in classrooms, hallways, storage areas, main entrances, etc.) Defining (and installing cameras to) any current blind spots 
  • Setting the camera feed up to transmit to a monitor and assigning a staff member to watch the footage for real-time observation and emergency response
  • Maximizing the analytic capabilities of the video system to optimize alerting features and automatic detections where possible
  • Ensuring that futureproof security cameras are chosen to enable cloud-based access control system integration
  • Maintaining video footage records to avoid discarding of evidentiary material
  • Integrating cyber and physical securities to further prevent data vulnerabilities

The benefits of modern camera-based security in schools

Real-time monitoring is the best line of defense when protecting a school, and modern camera-based security systems are the solution. The benefits of installing modern, camera-based security systems in schools include:

  • Emergency preparedness and response – with real-time monitoring, schools can respond to incidents faster 
  • Sharable footage – modern, cloud-based systems allow for easy sharing of live footage with authorities and first responders
  • AI analytics – some systems feature AI analytics that allow for the detection of suspicious behaviors as a preventative security method
  • Crime deterrent – school surveillance systems deter criminal acts such as theft, vandalism, and violence within the school grounds
  • Remote monitoring – integrating security cameras with cloud-based solutions allows for remote monitoring of large spaces

Choosing the right school security cameras

There are a variety of security camera types that can be implemented in school settings. Typically, schools choose from one of three types:

Dome security cameras

Dome security cameras are round and encased in a dark covering surrounding the lens itself. Dome cameras can rotate and allow for wide-angle filming, maximizing the security footage available. In addition, these cameras are more discreet in design than many others and tend to blend in more seamlessly with the environment. As a result, Dome cameras are a popular choice for a less intrusive aesthetic. 

Bullet security cameras

Bullet cameras are one of the most widely used options for school surveillance. Mounted onto walls or ceilings, bullet cameras tend to produce good quality, high-definition images, even from dimly lit settings, making them a suitable choice for outdoor areas such as parking lots. However, their primary drawback is that they are set in a fixed direction, limiting their directional footage capture.

PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom) security cameras

PTZ cameras are popular due to their capacity to pan, tilt and zoom – hence the name. In addition, these adaptable cameras capture clear and detailed security footage. Similar in appearance to dome cameras, PTZ cameras produce wide-angle filming and can change direction and zoom in either automatically or remotely. In addition, PTZ cameras can be configured to automatically track movement, making them particularly effective options in schools. 

State-by-state school security system guidelines

The Education Commission of the States (ECS) provides a breakdown summary of all laws and regulations pertaining to school safety for each state (and the District of Columbia). Some key points include:

Creating a safety plan, potentially requiring local law enforcement involvement

Conducting safety audits (with the assistance of local law enforcement)

Conducting safety/security drills such as evacuations, lockdowns, and emergency response

School security is more crucial than ever

Sadly, the requirement for enhanced school security is more vital than ever. Advancements in technology have dramatically improved security posturing in schools. By implementing integrated camera systems and following guidelines and best practices, schools can significantly improve the protection of staff, students, and visitors.