3 Ways Technology is Elevating School Safety Protocols

As 2023 came to a close, the US surpassed a grim milestone: another record high for school shootings. It’s the third year in a row that school violence has outpaced the previous year, as more than 340 school shootings have added to a national crisis that seems unending. 

While each incident is unique, they share a common thread: a weapon on campus. 

According to The Washington Post, more than 1,150 guns were discovered on K-12 campuses during the 2022-2023 school year, likely a fraction of the actual total. 

It’s a problem that affects students in every state, of every socio-economic status, and of every background. Collectively, the Post estimates that 1 in 47 school-aged children “attended a school where at least one gun was found and reported on by the media in the 2022-2023 school year.”

In response, schools are turning their attention to prevention, emphasizing the importance of school resource officers, community engagement, and student readiness. They are also increasingly taking a technical approach to create safer learning environments. 

Here are three technologies that are transforming school safety right now. 

#1 Surveillance Systems

Security cameras are ubiquitous in today’s school setting. 

One analysis found that 100 percent of schools use at least one security camera to help maintain safe learning spaces. 

These surveillance systems give administrators and security personnel visibility into more areas of the school, expanding their capacity to promote student safety. 

This technology, while just a piece of the puzzle, reduces instances of bullying, harassment, and physical altercations. 

In one particularly shocking incident, a security team spotted a student on a security camera with a gun sticking out of his pocket, allowing the team to intervene before a violent incident occurred. 

Reporting by EdTech Magazine notes that many schools are moving beyond standard CCTV cameras to monitor their facilities, adopting high-tech, AI-powered cameras that more actively aggregate data and provide real-time analysis. 

For example, at Lancaster School District in California, school leaders installed next-generation cameras that made an immediate impact, significantly reducing the number of school fights. 

K-12 schools are often expansive environments, difficult or impossible to monitor. Surveillance technology is expanding the reach of security teams, providing visibility and actionable intel to potential student safety concerns. 

#2 Access Screening Technology

When securing schools, access screening technology is often the first line of defense. It’s a school’s best opportunity to prevent weapons from entering the classroom and to prevent outside intruders from entering the learning environment. 

To enhance security, some schools implement metal detectors at entrances, funneling students through a security checkout point before heading to class. 

As recently as 2019, nearly 12 percent of high school-aged students passed through metal detectors when entering their school building. 

However, as these technologies faced blowback and criticism as highly invasive and minimally effective, new technology advancements have elevated access to screening solutions. 

Today, AI-powered surveillance systems that discretely detect threats upon entry are preventing tragedies with minimal disturbance. 

With more than six guns found on school campuses every day across the country, access screening technology has become critical to keeping weapons out of our schools. 

Xtract One Technologies is already supporting schools in this way, including protecting entrances to schools for the Lakewood school district in New Jersey. Xtract One’s artificial intelligence (AI)-powered sensors scan for hidden guns, knives, and other weapons on people as they walk through pillars without requiring personal items to be removed.

This significantly accelerates entry and offers a more accurate detection rate than traditional security measures, making schools safer. 

#3 Emergency Notification Systems

In the event of a crisis, timely communication is crucial. 

Emergency notification systems make multi-platformed, instantaneous communication possible. 

These systems can send out alerts through various channels, including text messages, emails, and intercom announcements, ensuring that everyone on the campus is informed and can take appropriate action. 

When linked to local law enforcement and emergency services, they enable a rapid response when needed. 

As Occupational Health and Safety explains, “Effective school alert systems allow administrators to enact safety protocols immediately following an alert. They also foster instant communication between school staff and emergency responders. In an emergency, this communication can save lives.”

Leveraging Technology To Elevate School Safety Standards

The start of the Spring 2024 semester picked up where the others left off. An Iowa student brought a gun to school, killing one student, injuring five people, and scaring another community.  

It’s a reminder that this problem won’t change with the calendar. Making our schools the safe spaces our students deserve requires an all-in effort, including the latest technologies.

If you’re ready to take the next step in transforming the safety of your school environment with the latest technology, connect with Xtract One Technologies today. We are your school safety partner, ready to work together to create safer learning environments.