Enhancing School Security Cameras with AI Technology
Updated: Feb 15
School security cameras are now capable of so much more than just recording video footage.
Data shows that physical security measures on school campuses are a top priority for school administrators in 2020. Advancing technology and an increasing risk of threats to students and faculty have caused administrators to invest heavily in school security.
The National Center for Educational Statistics provides some insightful data to support this claim. 83% of public schools in the 2017-2019 school year reported the use of school security cameras to monitor their campuses. And 93% reported the use of building access control by locking/monitoring doors during school hours.
Outside threats like gun violence and vandalism can be mitigated with a reliable school security camera system. But there are also inside threats that can be managed and acted upon with the right security camera system.
2020 has introduced an entirely new inside threat that schools at all levels have to deal with. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is posing a real challenge for schools to operate and educate children.
COVID numbers spiked in June and July of this year and parents asked each other,
“Is it safe to send my kids to school this fall?”
Conflicting opinions and disparities in reopening procedures made this question difficult to answer. Parents and administrators were desperate to return to routine, but scared to risk the lives of their children and families.
In the midst of a very grey area, there have been some creative and resourceful solutions to this challenge, such as:
Fully remote, real time learning via Zoom
Hybrid learning environments (part time in classroom, part time at home)
PPE outfitted desks and face coverings
“Pandemic Pods” or homeschooling groups
The rule that is at the heart of every policy change is social distancing.
Studies conducted by the CDC show the virus mainly spreads among people who are in close contact for a prolonged time. Infected people can send microscopic droplets onto bystanders by coughing, sneezing, and talking, effectively spreading the virus easily and quickly.
Currently, some of the riskiest situations to be in are:
Crowded buses and airplanes
Crowded waiting rooms
Crowded hallways and stores
Classrooms full of squirming children
Following these studies, the CDC was swift to publish social distancing guidelines to lower the risk of spread.
So how can schools proactively enforce social distancing rules when it comes to in-person learning?
The obvious answer is video surveillance. Primary schools, middle schools, and high schools all benefit in a variety of ways from security camera systems:
Deter bullying and violence among students
Monitor hallways, courtyards, parking lots, and in some cases, classrooms
Gather evidence in the event of an incident with high resolution footage
Deter trespassers and vandals
Pair with other solutions to create a robust security system
Protect students and faculty from inside and outside threats
Despite these benefits, school surveillance systems have a strong stigma due to legal stipulations and privacy concerns. Most teachers and parents agree on the importance of security cameras in common areas like entrances, hallways, and parking lots. But the debate heats up when monitoring classrooms comes into question, even though it is legal.
Some school district leaders and parents argue that video cameras in classrooms put pressure on students and teachers. Teachers may feel like they aren’t trusted by the administration. And children may not be able to act naturally or comfortably in their learning environment. This puts their ability to learn and develop social skills at risk.
This debate varies between states and school districts. It is up to each individual administration to assess its needs and figure out a healthy balance between safety and privacy.
The conversation on surveillance cameras in businesses and schools has been ongoing since the late 1980’s. However, the past decade has put a unique twist on the debate.
We have seen a dramatic rise in school shootings and a very chaotic situation with the COVID-19 pandemic. These challenges have forced schools to adapt to a new kind of learning environment. And this environment heavily relies on heightened security protocols and cameras in schools.
Video cameras and physical access control are optimal security measures to have in the arsenal. But how can they be enhanced to add another layer of protection to students and teachers?
Unlike traditional CCTV camera systems, Verkada cameras do so much more than just record and retain video footage. These IP cameras are made with cutting-edge AI technology and have machine learning capabilities. This helps school administrators to make informed, big picture security decisions.
Other features include:
Unlimited cloud storage, allowing for 24/7 surveillance
Easy access to archived or live feed videos on any browser or device
Linked live feed sharing via SMS to cut down on response time in case of emergency
Instant alerts in any meaningful event caught on camera
Bandwidth-friendly, high quality imaging
Facial/object/vehicle recognition and search feature
License Plate Recognition to monitor vehicular events
Overcrowding Notifications to manage occupancy issues
AI-derived analytics, providing insights to trends and patterns in the school
Easy installation and scaling
Single Ethernet cable to operate
Built-in Solid State Storage - no NVR or DVR needed
In addition to video surveillance technologies, schools can also implement different types of access control systems to bolster their security. Physical building permissions and user management work together to secure the organization from the inside out.
So how specifically can these AI-designed security measures help schools manage the threat of COVID-19 among students and faculty?
Verkada cameras have an intelligent archiving feature that remembers every face that enters the camera frame. The faces are categorized and given "names" for easy search access. This facial recognition feature is so advanced it can even accurately detect faces wearing masks. In the instance of COVID infection, contact tracing can be conducted with the assistance of the filter and search feature.
Social distancing rules have forced schools to closely monitor students' proximity to each other and solve occupancy issues throughout campus. Verkada cameras come equipped with Overcrowding Notifications which let administrators know instantly if a certain area of campus is being overcrowded.
Another COVID-19 protocol that more schools are adopting is staggered scheduling. Door access can be controlled from Verkada's cloud-based platform, providing students and faculty with a safe and structured routine.
Gone are the days when manually locked doors and metal detectors were the only defense of K-12 schools.
As life progresses, so do the types of challenges we must face. Increasing risks and evolving threats must be met with a reliable and technologically advanced security system. AI-designed school security cameras and advanced access control can mitigate a variety of threats on campus. This helps to keep students and faculty safe and secure.