Layering your K-12 campus safety management and cybersecurity tools provides the most complete coverage
School administrators have a heavy burden when it comes to keeping students and faculty safe in today’s education environments. Threats to health and safety come in many forms, including cyber threats as well as physical ones. We mainly deal with K-12 cloud security, but we work with schools that also use campus safety management tools to ensure physical safety.
The unfortunate reality for administrators is the increased need for campus safety measures. Our schools and students are exposed to so much, both on campus and online, that ensuring their safety has become quite complicated.
Out of this need, companies are creating unique solutions to use modern technology to help administrators make their schools a safe, inclusive environment for learning. K-12 campus safety management solutions attempt to assure the well-being of students, faculty and staff members by gaining awareness of threats and potentially harmful actions within the greater school community, such as suicidal or violent intentions.
Further, some states have enacted laws that require schools to intervene when a child is a target of bullying. For instance, David’s Law in Texas requires schools to notify parents by the next day if their child has been a target of bullying, and to notify the parents of the perpetrator within a reasonable amount of time. The law provides immunity to educators who report bullying, while schools have the authority to investigate cyber bullying and to work with law enforcement on such investigations.
What K-12 Campus Safety Management Products Do
K-12 campus safety management solutions help school districts identify and manage these various risks. Gaggle and GoGuardian’s Beacon product, for example, use powerful contextual content monitoring to flag certain types of behavior that signify intent to harm.
Beacon primarily focuses on suicide prevention. The product works across online channels, including web searches, social media, email, and more to securely build a profile on students’ online activity. It can then create an alert of activity that might signal suicidal intent and notify the proper people to intervene.
Gaggle flags safety incidences more broadly. The tool is customized to alert professional and officials about all manner of potential dangers, including bullying, planned fights, suicidal behavior, threats of violence, weapons in school, and more. The company then has trained professionals who evaluate all the signals 24/7/365 and alert the proper authorities when needed. School districts can also elect to add-on the SpeakUp Tipline, which allows students to report incidents and threats themselves.
A very cool new player in the market is a company called Now IMS. We met them recently at EDUCAUSE and were very impressed with what they have to offer. If you’re in the market for a new campus safety management tool, check them out! They’ve taken the technology they developed to help officials manage major events, such as the Super Bowl and other professional sports games, and are applying it to the needs of K-12 campus safety management.
A few other vendors in this category include (but are not limited to):
- Social Sentinel
Example Campus Safety Management Use Cases
- A student sends an email message to a friend, mentioning intentions of suicide. The safety management solution/team analyzes and reviews the content that clearly indicates the student is in imminent danger of self-harm. A safety representative forwards the email to a school district administrator and calls the emergency contact. The student is located in a school bathroom moments before harm is done.
- A student submits a homework assignment that requires writing an essay. The story seems to be about the student being in an abusive dating relationship. Before the teacher has a chance to read the essay, a relationship manager reads the essay and flags it for review by a school counselor, who then reaches out to the student and her parents to provide help. The school also contacts the parents of the suspected abuser, who attends the same high school.
- A small group of students was involved some off-campus criminal activity and they bragged about it to friends. People shared the stories of the criminal behavior over email. Keywords in the messages led the safety management solution to alert a resource officer, who read the email messages and then notified law enforcement.
Limitations of a K-12 Campus Safety Management Solution
The limitations vary greatly by product. Some of these solutions only work with school-sanctioned products such as Office 365, Google G Suite or Canvas LMS, or they only review posts to public social media sites. Students can still use private or direct messaging applications, apps with tight security settings, or non-school-provided social media and mobile applications to share their objectionable content, discuss their malicious or harmful intentions, or conduct their cyber bullying.
Tech buyers should thoroughly investigate a solution’s capabilities as well as which platforms and applications it works with. It’s important to understand what a solution doesn’t do, and what platforms and applications it doesn’t work with, as the excluded platforms and apps might be the ones that children are most likely to use to communicate with each other.
The Difference Between K-12 Campus Safety Management and Cloud Security
Campus safety management is not cloud application security—and we just can’t stress this difference enough.
Campus safety management tools are fantastic at helping keep students, faculty, and staff physically safe from violence, self harm, and inappropriate behavior. What they don’t do is keep their personally identifiable information safe from malicious and accidental data breaches.
According to Experian, over 1 million children were victims of identify fraud, costing families north or $540 million in 2017 alone. Schools collect and store personally identifiable information (PII) for students and their parents/guardians. This data is a veritable gold mine for cyber criminals who can sell the information on the dark web. The combination of highly marketable data with relatively low security make K-12 schools and districts a tempting and easy target for malicious attacks.
But it’s not just about data breaches originating from the outside. Accidental sharing and improper storage of sensitive data happens in school districts across the country all the time. These data breaches are just as serious as malicious attacks. They expose sensitive information to anyone interested in picking it up, no matter their intention.
K-12 cloud security solutions, such as ManagedMethods, protects school districts and students from the threats of cyber attacks and accidental exposure. When layering ManagedMethods with a campus safety management solution, school districts gain an extra layer of violent behavior, self harm, and inappropriate content screening. But, more importantly, they gain a critical layer in cybersecurity for their G Suite and Office 365 cloud applications that tools like Gaggle and GoGuardian can’t provide. Together, the two solutions create a safe environment for students, both in the classroom and in the cloud.