Managing the School Security Maze
Managing the School Security Maze - icon

Managing the School Security Maze

By L. Thomas (Tom) Sorrell, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C, NICET III

What can we do to make our campuses safer and bring greater peace of mind to students, faculty and parents in these times? How can we use available technologies to assist in this endeavor? 

In response to recent events, school districts are being bombarded by security vendors. Unlike other security companies, CMTA’s Security and Technology Team isn’t locked into any one vendor or manufacturer. We work directly with school districts and campuses to help facility and security staff navigate all the options available. 

There are many answers and possible solutions to school and campus security, but one principle we have been teaching and practicing for many years is increased use of electronic safety and security measures. These devices become a force multiplier enhancing your ability to monitor conditions and respond with less reliance on live viewing.

The first step in school security is old-fashioned perimeter security. This means always keeping the building envelope controlled. There are many ways to accomplish this, but electronic access control and cameras on the perimeter doors are an easy and relatively inexpensive solution. Facial recognition can be included in this system which can identify and alert security staff when individuals not permitted on campus make an appearance. Of course, perimeter control shouldn’t be the only security measure used by schools but is a powerful fundamental component. 

There are three main steps to increasing your school’s awareness via enhanced Electronic Safety and Security (ESS):

Step 1. Assess your legacy security systems. Review any system that you may already have and determine if it can be reused, upgraded or replaced.

Step 2. Evaluate current electronic security technology solutions available. Determine what features are important to your campus and what would leverage the most enhanced safety to your campus.

Step 3. Integrate video, access control and emergency notifications systems to make greatest use of push notifications.

These technologies are available at a much lower cost than in years past. Many school districts and campuses have existing legacy security systems, but those legacy systems aren’t interconnected. This is where making small steps toward a unified security management platform is a great beginning. Fewer components for campus officials to monitor and view translates into less technology or security fatigue. These systems need to be easy to operate in order to be effective.

There are numerous options being promoted to schools and campuses on a daily basis. CMTA can help you evaluate your current systems, identify needs and work with you to develop a request for proposals to which vendors respond. We can also help you evaluate the responses. We are vendor neutral and want to help you select the best system to protect your students, faculty and staff. 

Tom Sorrell, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C, NICET, CHC, leads the Technology Solutions Group at CMTA Consulting Engineers and is based in Louisville Kentucky. He specializes in Technology/Security and has been in the industry for 30 years. He regularly presents as a subject matter expert on Campus Electronic Safety/Security Design and best practices. Message him on LinkedIn or contact him @tomsorrell or e-mail at