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Expecting the Unexpected

You can't be too prepared for a disaster. That’s the message school technology advocacy group Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) is striving to convey with its new IT Crisis Preparedness Initiative, a sustained program that will feature planning guides, presentations, workshop-style conference sessions, case studies and other resources—all designed to help technology directors prepare their schools and districts for disaster before, during and after it strikes.

“Technology officers may have a clear plan on what to do if winter weather strikes or if an earthquake occurs, but they may not have a plan in place to deal with other circumstances like a school shooting, terrorist attack or pandemic outbreak,” says Linda Sharp, project director for the initiative.

CoSN officials say technology officers are uniquely positioned to play an integral role in their schools’ disaster planning efforts, as IT is often “the nucleus of a school’s functions,” from payroll to maintenance of student records.

The crisis preparedness initiative details what a district planning process should include—plans for disaster mitigation and prevention, communication and the continued availability of services during a disaster, and evaluation of the effectiveness of the plan following a disaster.

To learn more about the program, go to

Getting a Grip on Access Control

As incidences of school violence and vandalism increase in frequency and intensity, today’s administrators and school resource officers (SROs) face more numerous security challenges than ever before. A recent survey sponsored by Wren Solutions, a developer of IP-based surveillance systems for the education market, investigated such challenges and found that schools consider access control a key security technology.

Distributed to members of the National Association of School Resource Officers and the National Association for School Safety and Law Enforcement Officers, the survey, Wren School Security Survey: Access Control, revealed that only 28 percent of responding schools felt “extremely confident” in their ability to ensure perimeter doors would securely lock in case of an emergency lockdown. Yet 91 percent of respondents said it was critical to be able to lock down the school in the event of an emergency. The challenges they face stem largely from budget limitations, the report says.

Only 36 percent of respondents use some form of electronic access control, and the majority of them are using systems at main entrances. Comparatively few use access control systems to protect and limit access to administrative offices, or for strategic purposes such as protecting server rooms, personnel and student files, science labs, and other areas.


Stolen Laptops

The leading provider of computer theft recovery, data protection and IT asset management services, Absolute Software, has experienced an uptick in the number of reported computer thefts, company reps say. Absolute believes the increase could be partly dueto the current economic climate.

“We are seeing a rapid increase in the number of computer thefts reported to our Theft Recovery Team,” says Absolute chairman and CEO John Livingston. “While some of this is due in part to our rapid subscriber base growth, we also believe this may be a sign of the economic times.”

In October 2007, the company reported 575 total thefts, compared to 1,241 reported thefts during the same month this year.