Last updated on Jun 21st, 2021 at 05:25 pm

Schools and students are becoming more tech-savvy, and not only with on-site computer labs and interactive smart boards â?? they are carrying iPads, iPods and smart phones to school in their book bags.

CCTV, or closed-circuit television, has also become part and parcel of the new, more connected school environment â?? not only to protect the students and the schoolâ??s high-tech assets, but also to allow for a more interactive experience for parents.

CCTV is common in European schools

â??CCTV is actually quite common in European schools,â? says Niven Perumal, Product Manager for Guardian Eye at Vox Telecom. â??Research has shown that there are now more than 100 000 CCTV cameras in secondary schools across England alone, and it is not only used for security purposes.

Some schools are using their cameras to live stream and record sporting or cultural events so that travelling or working parents can enjoy every moment of their childâ??s extracurricular activities, wherever they are.â?

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Security a concern in schools

Of course, security still remains a concern. Very few schools have onsite security guards, usually relying on an unskilled caretaker to keep an eye on the premises, along with a standard armed response service. CCTV can be an extremely cost effective way to keep an eye on the premises, particularly at night.

Perumal believes that CCTV is not only one of the best deterrents for criminals, but also a means of solving crimes that do occur. â??CCTV is more likely to lead to an arrest,â? he says.

â??Cameras at the school gates will be able to determine which vehicles were in the area, as well as an image of the intruder. The school will be able to review footage dating as far back as 60 days or as little as a few minutes, and can examine incidents from various angles, which can be extremely valuable in a life-threatening situation, such as a child getting into a strangerâ??s car.â?

â??There may be an area that is out of the teachersâ?? line of sight at break times where students indulge in bad behaviour, or parents may lay a bullying charge against a pupil after an incident”

CCTV can play a role in combating bullying

Perumal also cites the case where schools in Australia used CCTV cameras to combat bullying and bad behaviour. â??There may be an area that is out of the teachersâ?? line of sight at break times where students indulge in bad behaviour, or parents may lay a bullying charge against a pupil after an incident. The school will be able to review such cases in detail and take corrective steps.â?

The privacy issue

Privacy, Perumal says, should not be a concern if handled correctly. â??There was an incident last year where a school in Kimberley placed cameras in the bathroom to curb vandalism. This is definitely not what we suggest doing. The school board should decide on general areas, such as entrances and exits, or rooms where valuable items such as PCs are kept that do not constitute a breach of studentsâ?? privacy or dignity. CCTV is not about monitoring studentsâ?? every move but about ensuring their safety.â?

Perumal advises that schools opt for event-triggered remote monitoring. â??A solution such as Guardian Eye is particularly effective for this very reason. When there is an incident â?? e.g. motion is detected after hours in the building or car park â?? the guards in the control room are alerted and able to visually confirm whether the activation was due to a perpetrator entering the area or simply by a stray cat setting off a car alarm.

This not only minimises false alarms, but allows for the fastest possible appropriate action â?? such as deploying emergency services or armed guards, who (as the incident is confirmed visually) invariably make the incident a priority response.â?

Safety of children is priceless

UK case studies have already shown that parents, teachers and children reportedly â??feel saferâ? after having CCTV installed, and that, Perumal says, is â??pricelessâ?. â??Any parent will tell you that there are no steps too great to take to ensure that their children are safe and protected. CCTV is a step is the right direction to keep children safe.â?