School Security Cameras – Everything You Need to Know
Rising concerns about security threats have made school security cameras a critical part of safety and security measures at most K-12 campuses in the U.S. While school video surveillance is here to stay, it brings with it important questions about privacy and legality, such as how long security camera footage can be kept by schools.
We take a look at why security cameras are essential to safety in schools, how schools are handling questions of privacy and legality, and the best camera technologies for use in educational settings.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SCHOOL SECURITY CAMERAS
Security threats against our schools are increasing. From deadly gun violence to vandalism, bullying, and even information theft, K-12 campuses face a broadening range of safety and security concerns.
When effectively deployed, school security cameras offer an effective, affordable, and non-intrusive solution to many security challenges. However, this requires working with an experienced security systems contractor to roll out the right camera and video system technology for your application.
Let’s take a look at why video technology is so popular for managing safety and security in schools and also consider some of the privacy and legality concerns about deploying security cameras on campuses.
SCHOOL SECURITY CAMERAS AND SAFETY
Schools are busy, open, and highly accessible environments—making them vulnerable to a wide range of threats. These include:
- Gun violence, including mass shootings, interpersonal conflict, and gang activity
- Weapons and other contraband, including knives and drugs
- Vandalism, often driven by organized social media movements
- Theft of school equipment and the personal property of staff or students
- Information access, including illegal access to grades, tests, and the personal details of students or staff.
Security cameras offer a real-time and recordable way to monitor school environments to ensure safety, deter illegal or undesirable behavior, and provide accountability.
A campus-wide security camera network provides critical protection for both people and facilities by allowing school security staff to:
- Monitor and patrol environments more effectively
- Detect and respond to threats and dangers faster
- Locate intruders or individuals under threat
- Share livestream camera feeds with first responders during an emergency
By its very presence, video monitoring offers a constant, low-key deterrent to many undesirable forms of behavior in a way that active patrolling cannot. Informed, transparent monitoring of public spaces within a school can help to discourage:
- Bullying and hazing
- Drug, tobacco, or alcohol use
- Opportunistic or organized vandalism
- Disruptive classroom behavior
- Academic cheating
- Information theft
Similarly, effective video monitoring and recording in critical areas can help encourage responsible behavior and ensure accountability in the event of an inter-personal conflict or a suspected crime or misdemeanor.
In cases like this, video records can help to hold all parties responsible and ensure appropriate actions are taken by:
- Providing evidence of what took place
- Clarifying conflicting accounts
- Ensuring protection from false accusations
- Offering evidence of unsupported accusations
EFFECTIVE VIDEO TECHNOLOGY FOR SCHOOLS
In addition to safety and risk management concerns, the rapid adoption of video monitoring technology in schools is also being driven by technological factors, including:
- The long-term fall in the cost of most video system components and storage mediums
- The replacement of legacy analog parts with easier-to-integrate digital components
- The increased availability of IP-addressable cameras and monitoring units that communicate over a common ethernet or wifi system rather than a dedicated, wired CCTV network.
Security cameras also offer greater sophistication at more affordable price points, including increased resolution, frame rates, and zoom capacity. These technologies are now found in many cameras types commonly used in school surveillance, including:
- “Bullet” Security Cameras: These small, fixed lens cameras can be mounted on walls or ceilings and aimed in any direction. Deployable either indoors or outdoors, these cameras offer high-quality images in a compact package.
- Dome Security Cameras: These ceiling-mounted units feature a rotatable, wide-angle camera inside a transparent dome-shaped housing, offering discreet monitoring of large high-traffic areas such as cafeterias or hallways.
- Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) Cameras: Mounted on either ceilings or walls, PTZ cameras can be rotated, tilted, and zoomed remotely or automatically to offer both wide-range monitoring and close-up tracking of suspicious activity.
- Multi-head Camera Housings: Mounting several cameras in a single housing can replace several separate fixed installations, providing the same coverage for less cost.
PRIVACY AND LEGALITY
The safety and security advantages of school video systems always need to be balanced with the community’s privacy rights. In general, courts have ruled that cameras can be used anywhere in schools where students or staff members would not have a “reasonable expectation” of privacy.
In practice, this means cameras have been widely used to monitor:
- Building entrances and exits
- Parking lots
- General administration areas
- School buses
Cameras are specifically not permitted in:
- Locker rooms or changing rooms
- Staff offices
While cameras are permitted in classrooms and school hallways, they aren’t as widely used in these places. It’s also possible that footage gathered here might be subject to challenges on privacy grounds. Questions also remain about exactly who should be able to view surveillance footage and how long to keep footage in schools.
In most cases, federal and state regulations require that you inform anyone using your facility that they are under video surveillance either via posted signs or disclosure forms.
LET RICHMOND SECURITY HELP YOU PROTECT WHAT MATTERS MOST
It’s hard to imagine a more important security application than keeping our schools safe. Richmond Security is ready to help you deploy an integrated security system—including video surveillance—that keeps students, staff, and facilities safe while ensuring privacy and transparency.
Our video surveillance systems are designed to help you deal quickly and efficiently with everyday security challenges while providing the mission-critical tools you’ll need in the event of an emergency.
Click below to learn more about Richmond Security’s school security systems.