Jul 13, 2018

Using Technology to Prevent Violence in Schools and Hospitals

Using Technology to Prevent Violence in Schools and Hospitals

Our last post examined the high incidence of workplace violence in the healthcare and educational sectors. Since healthcare professionals work with a large, shifting population prone to a high rate of volatility, and educators often fall prey to students’ acts of violence, both are at a higher risk than the general population. If there is an incident, time is of the essence, and clear communication is key. So what are the best ways to protect these important public servants?

Protecting our Healthcare Facilities

While education and training are critical components of a sound security plan, technology is playing an increasingly important role. The strongest security strategies incorporate a holistic approach, including education and training regarding early warning signs of danger, smart security policies, regular drills, and the effective use of technology.

Healthcare facilities have adopted several important technological solutions to prevent, respond to, and mitigate acts of violence:

  • Leveraging Software: Many hospitals flag incoming patients exhibiting a past history of violence by including a security risk code in their electronic medical record, or EMR.
  • Access Control: Healthcare facilities apply locks, alarms, and sensors to doors and windows; many can be monitored remotely to prevent violent outbreaks.
  • Metal Detectors and X-Ray Machines: These tools ferret out potential issues and deter both visitors and patients from bringing weapons.
  • Panic Buttons: Since 82% of physical violence occurs in a patient’s room, these are one of the most effective tools, per the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA). Panic buttons can be embedded into a wearable device or located in the patient’s room for added protection.
  • Networked Video Security Systems: These can be remotely monitored to help keep an eye on important areas; they’re connected to first responders for a fast response.

Protecting our Schools

Many U.S. schools employ a holistic approach to prevent, respond to, and mitigate acts of violence. Their strategy includes a positive school climate, smart emergency response plans and policies, regular drills, and overall situational awareness, in addition to school security systems that incorporate new technology.

Recently, the RAND Corporation and Johns Hopkins University undertook separate comprehensive studies to track the types of security technology being used by schools, as well as to provide recommendations on how to leverage them more effectively. Here are the recommended strategies:

  • Access Control Technology: Door locks, alarms, and sensors can be tracked remotely, and instantly alert a centralized controller to a security issue.
  • Sensors: Gunshot-detection sensors are networked to reach first responders and school administrations.
  • Panic Buttons: Even ID cards can be equipped with panic buttons so that they’re mobile.
  • Good Lighting: All areas must be well lit to deter crime and illuminate perpetrators.
  • Communications Tools:
    • Anonymous Tip Lines: These programs can receive tips from various media channels, both online and offline.
    • Digital Floor Plans: Layouts on map-like grids help first responders navigate an unfamiliar scene quickly.
    • Mobile Apps and Platforms for Real-time Response Management: These include SOS buttons, video capabilities, and staff communication tools to contact first responders in seconds instead of minutes.
    • Portals: These centralized sites are smart educational resources, with state and federal laws, prevention tips, incident response information, training sessions, and violence alerts.
      • National Open-source Database: New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice built an open-source national database to track K-12 school shootings.
      • Campus Shield: The brainchild of Miami-Dade Schools Police, this pilot program funnels social media feeds, attendance records, school incident reports, local crimes, and citizens’ tips to the district’s network of surveillance cameras, the school-visitor system, the gunshot-detection system, and a team of mental-health specialists.
  • Social Media Scanning Tools: IST vendor Verint collects, analyzes, and synthesizes intelligence from social media as well as other internet platforms to identify possible threats that can then be addressed proactively.
  • Security Software: One type of software application development provides instant background checks of visitors.
  • Weapons Detection: X-ray machines and metal detectors can identify weapons and also deter their use.

Interested in learning more? IST is on the cutting edge of using technology to prevent violence in schools and hospitals, and we can provide a variety of effective tools for any industry. Contact us here.