Security Lessons Learned at the Suburban High School

Takeaways for other schools considering security measures

Lessons Learned at the Suburban High School

1. Force tough discussions about safety and security up front. This prepared the stakeholders for questions and challenges to their security decisions, and prevented political wrangling, discord between police and fire, and friction with parents.

2. Be prepared to defend decisions with people who have a lesser understanding of risk. Parents and, to some extent, teachers, understandably worry about spectacular but rare risks like school shootings. While those need to be addressed, more prosaic risks do too, and from the same pool of money. This schools group of stakeholders prepared itself to explain the trade-offs and relative likelihood of certain risks.

3. Do not think of security as a capital investment and do not let other stakeholders think that way either. High-res cameras are great. Smart doors are great. But these devices have expected life cycles. In schools, for example, doors take a beating. Make sure everyone involved realizes that investing in cutting-edge security will mean investing in maintenance dollars later.

4. Hire an expert in school security management, pay the expert well and let the expert create a thorough, sound security and safety policy. Without question, the stakeholders at this school say hiring John, the facilities manager, was its single most important decision contributing to success. John not only had experience with computer-managed facilities security but also knew that creating policies for its use was more important than anything.

5. Practice disaster scenarios. Theres no such thing as eliminating risk, so the school practices lockdown procedures just like fire drills.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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