According to Safe and Sound Schools, 80% of schools still use pen and paper to track visitors. That leaves a lot of room for human error and clerical oversight. Even in a slow-moving government sector, that’s noteworthy in a digital world. However, the same report also sheds light on progress—school districts are now spending nearly $5 billion per year to make their schools safer. And 90% of K–12 schools have installed video surveillance equipment.
Due to obvious budget restraints across the education sector, the following IoT concepts may be years away from mainstream consideration. However, as we strive to keep students and staff safe, they need to be part of the school safety conversation sweeping our nation.
3 ways IoT can make schools safer
1) Facial-recognition cameras
Imagine school security staff receiving alerts the very moment when unregistered guests walk on campus. The technology is certainly available—look no further than your Facebook account.
Has a social media application has ever identified you in a photo, based on facial recognition alone? Once your face is “in the system,” advanced algorithms can recognize you with remarkable precision. Facial key points are detected and the best facial recognition application can identify you with up to 97% accuracy.
Combining deep learning and IoT, facial recognition technology has been used to identify escaped convicts who appear on security cameras while on the run. On the consumer side, property owners can already purchase smart cameras with advanced cloud algorithms, which alert them of what’s happening in their homes and businesses.
Back to schools—when cameras detect staff and enrolled students in their database, no alerts would be sent; however, security would receive a snapshot and the exact location of any unfamiliar visitors. Security can also turn on alerts for designated individuals within the current database.
2) Drone and kiosk surveillance
Since drones are getting cheaper, they may soon become a realistic mainstream option in terms of school security. Drone fleets can provide a 360° camera view of campus activity, and even include speakers and microphones. As for charging the drone units, a staggered approach can be implemented to ensure continuous monitoring.
Complementing the mobility and bird’s-eye view of drones, stationary campus kiosks can provide additional 360° camera coverage, two-way communication and digital signage for alerts. Unlike drones, kiosks don’t risk inflight crashes or require downtime at charging stations.
Both drones and kiosk cameras can include facial recognition technology.
3) IoT sensors
Not all threats to schools are due to nefarious behavior. Many come from failed equipment, oversights or improper maintenance. Think of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, hazardous water quality and air pollutants.
What used to be expensive, manual processes—relying on various experts in various fields—can now be automatically detected and reported by IoT-enabled sensors. Thanks to advances in IoT sensor technology, one unit can track multiple dangers, which makes it even more affordable for cash-strapped school districts.
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