Converge Your Resources

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Linking physical security and cyber security methods can maximize a district's safety efforts.

Ralph C. Jensen TECHNOLOGY PROVIDES a prime example of a paradox. It can solve, or at least alleviate, many K-12 security problems, yet it causes many as well. On the plus side, we no longer hear debates at school board meetings as to whether a gas-powered or electric-powered golf cart would better serve the night watchmen patrolling school campuses. Thanks to the advent of surveillance cameras, the night watchman has gone the way of the milkman.

But on the downside, K-12 educators never used to worry about protecting students from pornography, except for the occasional dirty magazine a student might smuggle into school. And a sharp eye from the assistant principal was enough to make would-be mischief makers reconsider. Today, however, the internet has exposed students to all sorts of external dangers. Outsiders can find their way into the school from around the world, not just the neighborhood.

Geoffrey H. FletcherTechnology brings new dangers, but fortunately, technology also can stop those dangers. How is this best accomplished? In a word, convergence.

Converging physical security methods with cyber-based tools can make a school district's safety measures more effective, makes better use of personnel and technology, and can save a district money. For example, instead of using analog surveillance cameras and storing the footage on videotape, using digital cameras and transporting the data via a district's intranet is more efficient and is done without anyone having to handle any media. In addition, a district can connect its digital security system to its local police and fire departments to allow the appropriate personnel real-time access to footage during an emergency. That capability by itself can save lives and thousands of dollars in damages.

Yet convergence is still an underused security strategy. The "2008 School Safety Index," CDW-G's annual survey of district IT and security directors, reports, "When it comes to plans or purchases that affect both cyber and physical security, 32 percent of respondents don't collaborate with their IT/physical security counterpart." Another indicator is that from 2007 to 2008, the nation's scores on the survey's physical security index increased 17 points while cyber security scores fell 13 points.

Efforts to ensure our students' safety must continue. So T.H.E. Journal and Security Products have joined together to provide this special 16-page supplement on K-12 security. We believe that technology, coupled with education, can go a long way toward keeping students safe if we work together with our colleagues across every department and at every level.

-Ralph C. Jensen, associate publisher/editor, Security Products
-Geoffrey H. Fletcher, editorial director, T.H.E. Journal

This article originally appeared in the 10/01/2008 issue of THE Journal.

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