A Sound Solution to School Security

Security Industry Association (SIA)

September 21, 2017


How do you use “sound” or audio solutions to improve your school security? That was the topic of a Sept. 21, 2017, webinar program from the Security Industry Association (SIA), titled “A Sound Solution for School Security.”

Speakers Guy Grace, director of security and emergency preparedness for Littleton Public Schools in Colorado, and Richard Brent, CEO for audio solutions company Louroe Electronics out of Van Nuys, California, tackled this topic and presented essential recommendations, and addressed the legality of audio surveillance.

According to Grace and Brent, audio devices (which are typically ceiling-, wall- or post-mounted microphones) can be used to:

  • capture critical information and evidence,
  • enable a proactive security posture versus a reactive posture,
  • increase monitoring efficiency,
  • expand situational awareness at cost-effective price, and
  • create a turnkey surveillance solution.

Grace and Brent both noted that with the proliferation of video surveillance camera system investments at schools and other facilities, audio also capture key evidence to give a more complete understanding of an incident, whether in real-time or for evidentiary purposes. The technology is credited with first appearing on school buses around the U.S. to handle issues of conflict between students and unruliness, but the technology was steadily recognized as useful on campus, too.

Grace, whose security system covers multiple schools, said he has integrated audio monitoring (also sometimes referred to as audio surveillance) into his comprehensive security platform and his security management strategy. A complete system not only has solutions for outbound communication via mass notification, but has intercom-style solutions as well as listening solutions via audio surveillance microphones. Per a poll conducted, roughly 71% of school security leaders and security solutions professionals were seeing schools with both traditional public address and mass notification systems, but only 41% had integrated audio systems with duress systems or with video management systems (VMS).

Audio for Campus Security

Grace said one of the common use cases in the school environment, which is also applicable to commercial environments, is that of visitor management. Having both video security cameras at entrances as well as intercom devices allowing 2-way communications, enables staff to engage with visitors remotely. In some cases, a visitor may be asked to present their driver’s license or ID to the camera and state their business at the school, before being allowed to enter.

Grace is also finding direct benefits in school-specific cases of resolving parental custodial disagreements and with bullying among students.

Common Applications of Audio Monitoring at Schools

  • Visitor Management – as an additional point of identification and verification
  • Vandalism – using audio indicators as a first alert of trespassers after hours (sometimes before they can even be seen on cameras)
  • Mass Notification – for confirmation of notifications during duress or lockdowns
  • Run, Hide, Fight, Care Protocol – as a first warning of danger

Where to Use Audio Solutions on School Campuses

  • Main Offices Entrances/Exits
  • Public Interior Areas (Hallways, Cafeterias, Classrooms)
  • Outdoor Common Areas (Playground)
  • Parking Lot
  • School Buses
  • Dormitory Check-in Center

Legality of Audio Surveillance

In addition to the benefits, the program covered the legality of audio surveillance. Speaker Richard Brent noted that all 50 U.S. states recognize audio surveillance as a tool, and noted that audio recording or surveillance is legal when one manages the expectation of privacy.

Additional Resources

In addition to the archived webinar, SIA and our speakers would like to point you to the following resources related to the topic of school security and use of audio.

Webinar Speakers:

Richard Brent,
Louroe Electronics


Guy Grace,
Director of Security and Emergency Planning,
Littleton, Colorado, Public Schools

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