At Single Path, we spend a lot of time thinking, acting and working on ways to protect computers electronically—backing up data in case of system failure, keeping private information away from hackers, ensuring safe and trouble-free 1:1 learning environments and more. But we know that keeping schools safe also must include physical security, and technology can play a vital role in maintaining it. Physical security includes the use of on-premise safeguards to monitor and protect the facility from theft, intruders, sabotage and even stopping vandalism.
The mere presence of physical safeguards will strongly discourage malicious acts and provide peace of mind for those in the school. But how can you build a secure and safe school environment? Following these five steps is a start, and will go a long way to keeping your school safer.
1. Build a Culture of Security
An organization’s employees are its first line of defense. Train your staff on security awareness, such as locking and encrypting their systems, choosing safe passwords and only sharing confidential information with those who need to know. Making security top-of-mind and habitual is an important component to overall school security.
2. Teach Safety
It takes a village to ensure safety: go beyond your staff to educate everyone. Computers are great resources for children in both learning and social interaction, but schools should also educate them on how to protect their information online and offline, especially in school environments where personal devices may be used. Mark Hickman, COO of global data security company WinMagic said—as quoted in an article from School Planning and Management Magazine—“Teaching about Internet safety and data security is fundamental in providing the tools and knowledge required for youth to understand their role in protecting their valuable personal information.”
3. Secure Rapid Communications
We recently wrote a post, How to Create Your School Cyber-Threat Strategy in which we detailed one of the most important physical security measures you can take—installing or incorporating a robust and simple communication system. The ability to send timely alerts, warnings and information is vital in times of imminent threat such as from a natural disaster or intruder.
4. Assign a Security Manager
An in-depth guideline from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) highlights the need for a security manager to lead security efforts. That manager can be a current staff member or a new hire. According to NCES, the Security Manager should have four main responsibilities:
- Increase staff awareness of security issues.
- Provide for appropriate staff security training.
- Monitor user activity to assess security implementation.
- Educate the staff and leadership on the importance of security for both the individual and the organization.
5. Be Smart
One of the keys to staying safe is simply being smart and avoiding common mistakes. The folks at biometric software and security service provider Bayometric detailed some common security mistakes. This list is relevant to all organizations, including schools and school districts, and includes:
- Not keeping and following documented standard operating procedures for security
- Poor employee awareness about security, not conducting any training or workshop
- Not taking security breaches or crimes seriously within the organization
- Cutting budget to security measures to save money
- Not aware of the security breaches or crimes happening in neighborhood
- Not listening to safety concerns of employees
- Poor disposal practices of sensitive documents
- Unattended security measures or poorly maintained security equipment
Find a Partner
We titled this post “Five Tips” but really, we probably should have made it six—as this final tip is just as important. Find a partner to help. We know you and the staff at your school or organization are busy. We know how easy it is to put things off for later. That’s where we come in. At Single Path, we have worked with businesses, government organizations and schools to provide complete IT and Security Solutions. We can review your current security protocols and make recommendations for improvement, train staff, find, buy and install optimal technology solutions and so much more. Waiting can be a mistake; you never know when security is needed, and tomorrow may be too late. We can help keep your school safe, including staff and students, by providing you with smart security choices now.