AUSTIN, Texas — Research firm IHS Inc. is forecasting strong growth for security equipment in schools throughout the United States for the next several years. IHS estimates the market size for security equipment in schools to reach $634 million this year and is expected to surpass $720 million by 2014.

The research firm’s attributes the growth, in part, to high-profile shootings such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre on Dec. 14, 2012. These events force schools to review their existing policies and create threat assessments as well as new policies and procedures. There is no set standard for what schools need to do to prevent these tragedies, according to Blake Kozak, senior analyst for access control, fire and security at IHS.
“Perhaps the key here is to have ongoing discussions and security reviews long after such events fade from media coverage,” Kozak says, “for example continued knowledge sharing between school districts and universities to find best practices.”

In many cases, funding continues to be a barrier for the expanded deployment of security equipment. Some of the budget shortfall is being mitigated by additional funds provided to schools through state-funding and grants. Also, the U.S. Justice Department is helping to pay for additional officers. It awarded $45 million from Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants this year to schools that planned security enhancements. This also includes Secure Our Schools (SOS) programs.

Security equipment installations and upgrades as well as policies will vary by school district and university; however, IHS finds that video surveillance will be the focal point in the years to come.

Effective security comes from having effective policies in place and then leveraging the security system you have. For example, video surveillance can act as a “force multiplier” by giving the campus officers greater visibility, either through having more cameras on campus, or by being more intelligent and combining access control and video surveillance technologies. In other observations by IHS:

IHS expects growth of video surveillance in schools to be twice as fast as that of access control through 2017.
From the end-user perspective, there are several critical success factors that decision makers look for in a security solution: user-friendly, integration, safety, reliability.

School officials are likely to spend money on a case by case basis. However, there is a growing trend to have interactive solutions between staff and first responders. In addition, video is looking to be used in real-time not just for forensics. Having video cameras on the perimeter of the school building can also act as a deterrent in some cases.

Investment will likely differ between universities and K-12. Oftentimes there are a few police officers per school district, and most of the time these officers are used to monitoring high schools (rather than elementary). Alternatively, universities often have their own dedicated police that could utilize a control room. It also tends to be easier for universities to increase its police force before a K-12 school district.

Having video surveillance in place is crucial, but having folks in place who can quickly respond to a situation is equally important.

For K-12, many schools already have access control but these solutions are often very basic using only proximity cards and in some cases push-pin access codes. On the other hand, many universities have already transitioned to higher security access solutions.

“Schools need to continue to develop independent security plans and develop automated approaches when able. But schools also shouldn’t forget other means of security such as stronger windows and doors,” Blake says.

Using the Sandy Hook tragedy as an example, the school had access control in place but the shooter was able to break through the glass to gain entry to the building. So while video and access control equipment provide a good starting point for a high level of security, having several layers of security help schools take a step in the right direction to prevent or limit similar tragedies in the future.

In July 2013, IHS released the “Vertical Insights: Video Surveillance & Security in Education” report, which predicts that the market for security systems integration in educational institutions is set to expand to $4.9 billion in 2017, up from $2.7 billion in 2012. Security systems integration includes design, consultancy, installation, service, maintenance and security equipment. Analysts expect double-digit growth every year throughout the forecast, with revenue rising by 13% to reach $3 billion in 2013.

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