How to Protect Our Children

We have all been given a gift. That gift is called free will. We can choose how we live our lives as a someone who treats others, as well as ourselves, as we would like to be treated. There are no ulterior motives;  just a respect for life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, who we are, and what we can be. The side effect is peace. However, there are those who, for whatever reason, go against the grain, are at war with themselves and everyone around them. Call it selfishness, evil, mental illness, whatever - these people are the reason we have to protect ourselves and our loved ones. We cannot be everywhere at the same time, nor do we have the premonition to know where we should be at any given time for ourselves, our family, our friends. We are all only human.

My heart goes out to the family and friends at Sandy Hook Elementary School this Holiday Season. Horrific just doesn't describe it adequately. The loss is too painful to comprehend, to even dwell into for even a brief moment, because I am a Father. It is in my genetic makeup to protect my children, my family. So instead of going through the usual tirade about security, gun control, mental health issues, medical insurance companies being soulless entities portraying themselves as caring organizations, or how pharmaceutical companies treat us like cattle, I'm just going to provide a conceptual security architecture on how to protect our children in schools, because unlike ourselves, technology does have the ability to be super-human.

I've worked on projects for schools. If they have a lock-down procedure, that means they have electronic door locks. If they have a intrusion detection system (burglar alarm), then they may have tamper alarm sensors on windows. Some schools, depending on the region, may even have some legacy CCTV surveillance system that includes poor video imagery that is being monitored by a security guard somewhere, sometime, when he's not in the restroom. An active CCTV surveillance system is limited to where you've extended your security eyes through the use of optics. An active system still relies on the operator to see, comprehend and diagnose the severity of a situation, with legacy, lower resolution imagery, it can be a challenge.

The intrusion detection system, which may include some elements of an access control system, sends an alert to the police department, the fire alarm system sends an alert to the fire department. These alerts are simple notifications of a potential break-in, or potential fire at the facility.

If you integrate the intrusion detection/access control system, (the electronic door strikes), and a digital video surveillance system, you'll have information from from multiple angles to make a single system more intelligent, thus presenting smarter data for someone to make better decisions. Instead of a blind alert, you could receive an image of the event that set off the alarm, and if you archive the video footage, you could receive it five seconds before, which sometimes can give you even better information (see the Navy Pier photo below)
Smarter than CCTV: The alarm tile on the upper left is live footage. The alarm tile on the upper right is five seconds before, showing a woman inadvertently triggering the tamper alarm on the stain glass cabinet while taking a photo. No security dispatch required.

I've inserted an example school floor plan. This is somewhat of a larger school, which included more ingress and egresses. In the indoor conceptual design plan I added a new camera, or hypothetically replaced or integrated and existing camera at each entrance. The I/O Ports within those cameras become the interface for either the intrusion detection/access control system or the electronic door strikes and/or DPDT door contacts (in the event someone breaks in through the door) into the video management system software by tapping into the input ports. The output ports become the interface into the intrusion detection/access control system to activate and deactivate a building lock down. Events, alerts and alarms can be scheduled at a granular level, which is important as the same concern may not be as important when there are no classes in session.

The outdoor cameras can provide motion detection, either using the built-in motion detection of the visual spectrum, or using infrared devices that are added into the input ports of the camera, again using the camera's firmware as the software interface into the video management system software. Enough cameras can be set to watch the classroom windows along the building outdoor perimeter during school hours, and the grounds after school hours. You could even run 22 AWG wire from any tamper alarm sensors on the windows into the camera's I/O ports, using a relay to add that security subsystem into the mix - making the solution even more intelligent. The motion detection built into the camera is capable enough of observing someone attempting to break into a window (again, if properly configured within the software using select zones, motion panes, etc). Once the potential intruder is observed by the system, an alert is sent out, with a digital image to provide more intelligence to make those quick, more effective decisions. Meanwhile, you could set up the integrated system to monitor, then when the motion detection is tripped (indicating someone has crossed a virtual tripwire at a window), the alert is sent out, with a photo (frame capture) to security, principal, etc. The tamper alarm sensor at the window in that zone (e.g. northwest classrooms), which the solution now understands means that that figure that tripped the motion detection is at the window, breaking the window, trying to open the window, etc. You can then configure the solution to send out an alarm to authorities, blast out a audio alert to scare them away, and/or simply lock every door in the school, keeping the intruder locked in that room, and/or out of all the classrooms, while the authorities are alerted with an image, alarms, and even video footage on their workstation, smartphone, tablet, wherever they need it to expedite the process of protecting our children.

There are many ways of developing a super-human security system and no where do we need it more than in our schools. Cost is irrelevant considering companies can even lease the system, making it possible to hire a super-human security system for about the cost of a single security officer. I've seen the results of these types of digital security solutions and I believe they can save lives. High school system I developed for a high school in Chicago, reduced incidents (assault, rape, vandalism, theft, etc) by 76%, increased attendance by 6% and reduced the amount of false fire alarms pulls from eight to zero.

We must take the protection of our children in school just as serious as the "right to keep and bear arms", because in America "the right to keep and bear arms" does include the narcissistic socio/psychopaths.
Example layout of indoor cameras to connect to electronic door strikes

Example school outdoor area-of-coverage and motion detection zones.

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