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Construction Innovation in Schools: Protecting Our Future

By Steven Morse, Project Manager

K-12 schools across New York State have been taking on a lot more outside threats than usual.  Currently, containing COVID-19 is at the forefront. Aside from COVID, schools have been continuing to explore and implement ways to make their buildings and campuses safer. To effectively learn, students need to feel safe and comfortable.

Regardless of a school’s size, location, and reputation, school security is at the forefront of concern.  Innovative security technologies are now being designed and constructed into school infrastructure when at all possible. Campus Notification Lockdown and Access Control Interconnect are a couple examples of technology that provides security solutions.

 

Campus Notification Lockdown

This infrastructure system involves audio and visual devices that puts the building in lockdown and notifies law enforcement. The device shown in the image is installed in corridors, classrooms, business offices, and other large gathering spaces. Once the administrator deems the school to be in lockdown, it prompts the network server to notify local law enforcement and will broadcast a lockdown message on the device shown. This quickly initiates classrooms and other spaces to go into a practiced and pre-rehearsed lockdown hiding.

Additionally, lockdown will trip all doors that are ajar and are connected to the fire alarm system. This ensures that all classroom doors are locked shut and all corridor doors are closed similar to a fire. The features of this system are expanding with the capability of sending notifications to mobile devices. My opinion is the Campus Notification Lockdown system is a great asset for schools.

Access Control Interconnect

This infrastructure tool enables the school district to grant access via key fob to specific spaces for specific individuals. This security solution does not allow anyone (outside of faculty and staff) to enter a school building freely. For example, at one of Welliver’s more recent projects for the Addison Central School District, we played out how someone unaffiliated with the school would enter the building. When entering the school, the individual has to ring a video monitored doorbell signaling back to the main office, who can identify the individual through either a window or the video door bell. Once the main office grants access, the individual is able to enter the building’s vestibule area. When in the fully enclosed and locked glass vestibule, employees of the main office have another full body visual of the individual asking permission to enter the school. The main office can then trip the electric strike to allow the individual to enter. The school’s main office is also a secure space that would require the employee to trip another electric strike in order to release the door entering the actual school.

This example provides three (3) measures of security: 1.) the front door of the school is locked with vestibule access required, 2.) the school’s vestibule area is locked with main office access required, and 3.) the main office is locked with school access required.

Whether it’s upgrading video surveillance, door hardware, or even lighting controls signaling security breach, innovative technology in supporting school safety is going to play a big part in school construction for the foreseeable future. The two security measures mentioned above have a visible security presence, places student security at the fingertips of our school administrators, and contributes to protecting our students in school where they should feel safest.

Steve is a construction management professional who has managed projects of all sizes for clients representing diverse industries, including K12 Education. His broad range of expertise in architecture, quality control, budgeting and schedule, construction field inspection, as well as construction technology has brought significant value to his project management and construction competency. Steve’s motivation to learn and enhance new skills in construction management keeps him highly driven to take on complex projects. His ability to define the project and execute in the best interest of the client has built long-term professional relationships. Steve can be reached at smorse@buildwelliver.com.