In the months following the Sandy Hook massacre, schools nationwide stepped up efforts to provide safe environments for teachers and students, and many turned to high-tech solutions.
Examples are the identification systems—including IDVille Visitor Express, School Gate Guardian, and LobbyGuard—that perform instant background checks on visitors who scan IDs or enter their names, to let the staff know if an individual is in a national sex-offender database. This technology compiled “a better record of who is in and out of the building—the last piece of access control, after locked doors and camera systems,” says Brian Allen, director of sales and marketing for LobbyGuard, which is used nationwide in more than 2,000 schools.
Through these systems, which are increasingly common, visitors receive customized photo-badges, and frequent visitors can get special tags. The process saves time for the office staff and allows administrators to compile digital records on visitors to each school. The machines are often also customizable, and can accept scanned IDs or names based on school policy. In addition, they can alert security when anyone previously banned from the building tries to enter.
But these machines are designed to enhance visitor management programs and not replace them, so districts must have strong policies in place for them to be effective. The technologies do not track overall criminal records, or stop intruders who fail to sign in digitally. “It’s not a magic pill, but it’s a complementary piece of our security plan,” says Russ Smith, senior security director at Wake County (N.C.) Public Schools, where 27 out of 169 schools adopted LobbyGuard. “Having good procedures in place and following them consistently is the best tool you can have,” he says. “A visitor management system can enhance that, but not replace it.”
IDVille Photo Identification Systems: www.idville.com
LobbyGuard Visitor Management Sytems: www.lobbyguard.com
SchoolGate Guardian School Visitor Management System: www.schoolgateguardian.com