Recent high-profile school emergencies have brought school safety to the forefront of the national conversation once more. Across the country, communities are debating the merits of a wide range of solutions, from staffing schools with armed guards and arming teachers, to instituting video monitoring of school buildings and grounds.
Cellular phone use in schools is prevalent, and some parent groups advocate for use of this popular technology because it can ensure mobile communications both indoors and outdoors. Most cellular emergency systems link student cell phone numbers and school eMail addresses together in order to broadcast emergency alerts. However, cellular coverage often varies by school district, and cellular technology cannot adequately locate mobile phone users indoors.
Video surveillance is another popular security enhancement to schools. Video has long been used to monitor school grounds, offering superior situational awareness to help first responders address emergencies. Cameras serve a dual purpose by capturing video footage during emergencies, and by deterring violence. However, CCTV systems do require ongoing staffing and can be costly for smaller schools.
Another possible complement to effective school policies and strong law enforcement presence is emerging radio frequency identification (RFID) technology that can improve communications and emergency response times by increasing teacher and student visibility during emergencies.
(Next page: How RFID technology can help make schools safer)