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Chubb Showcases Lockdown Procedures at Schools and Academies Show

Ashford, , England -

Mark Pettit, Director of Strategy and Business Development at Chubb Fire & Security, discusses ‘lockdown’ in schools, its increasing prevalence and what products and services are available to deliver comprehensive lockdown procedures. 


Lockdown, according to the National Counter Terror Security Office (NaCTSO), is is the ability to quickly restrict access and egress to a site (or part of it) through physical measures in response to a threat, either external or internal. The key objective is to protect pupils and staff by denying intruders access to key areas, thereby frustrating their intent to do harm. 

 

In the last three years, Chubb has seen a marked increase in the number of schools in the UK including lockdown as a key part of their security strategy. It is a concept brought over from the US, and has become popular in the UK following increased concern over terrorist incidents, as well as the associated risks of schools generating additional income by opening their doors and facilities to the wider public. 


The trend is being seen across the UK, but is more prevalent within the private sector, where demonstrating sophisticated security measures is a method of differentiation in a competitive segment. While the Department for Education does not have a policy on whether schools should have lockdown procedures, local authorities, particularly in London boroughs, are starting to include them in their guidelines. Security experts and teaching unions have been calling for the government to be more prescriptive on what is required. 


When a school approaches Chubb to advise on embedding lockdown procedures, practically speaking, the key requirement is to integrate functionality into the school’s existing (or future) fire and security systems. The functionality overrides access control systems and utilises visual and audio alarms, enabling authorised users to restrict access for everyone on site. The idea is to keep everyone who is already in the school ‘in’, as well as keeping intruders ‘out’. 


Chubb designs a range of solutions, including those that use a wireless technology from its sister business EMS. This comprises an activation button that is either located at reception, or via small, discreet wireless handsets carried by authorised teachers and staff. The handsets are connected to alarms, access control systems and gate mechanisms according to each individual site’s layout and requirements. 


When an alarm is triggered, a pre-determined ‘cause and effect’ plan is activated resulting in a series of visual and audio alarms that support staff in an emergency. 


We are now starting to see activation functionality through lone-worker-type apps, which can be downloaded and installed on mobile devices and tablets. They essentially turn a smartphone into a safety device with real-time GPS tracking, video/audio, alarm features and highly-sophisticated 24/7 monitoring. 


These apps enable users to activate an alert with either a shake of the phone, a touchscreen slide movement, or through a connection to a wearable safety pendant. In addition to connecting to the site’s fire and security systems, once activated the alert can be sent directly to a control centre along with tracking and real time video. Notifications can also be sent to pre-determined emergency contacts. It is also possible for emergency contacts to use these apps to link to real-time monitoring, informing a user’s location, information on the event and video and audio evidence. Reporting features allow users to send evidence of an event directly to a control centre, including location, timestamp and attached media. 


Thankfully, violent events at schools are still very rare. In light of terror attacks at home and abroad, however, we envisage lockdown procedures will become more prevalent, as schools seek to assure parents and stakeholders that their security procedures are able to help mitigate the most serious security incidents. 


Lockdown procedures are also not yet common place in higher education environments, where campuses are generally larger and more complex. With the increasing capabilities of integration and digital technologies, however, we expect this to be a growth segment.