One of the fastest growing districts in the upper Midwest of the United States, Harrisburg in South Dakota educates almost 4000 students across eight schools. Gallagher Command Centre was selected as the only solution that could meet the district’s security requirements, and in October 2015, these security measures were put to the test when the local high school was the target of a shooting.

The incident resulted in one staff member being injured but was prevented from escalating further due to Gallagher’s central management platform, Command Centre, being activated by staff. Logs from the incident confirm that from the time the emergency button was pressed, it took just four seconds for Command Centre to lock all outside doors, notify district authorities, and limit building access to emergency responders only.

Physical barriers for students’ security

Gallagher Command Centre was involved with placing physical barriers between an active gunman and high school students"James Straatmeyer, Chief Executive Officer of Integrated Technology & Security, partnered with Gallagher for the installation of Harrisburg districts security solution. James says, “Gallagher Command Centre was directly involved with placing physical barriers between an active gunman and hundreds of high school students filling 37 classrooms. As far as I’m aware, there’s no other product on the market that has the capabilities and integration solutions for protecting students and staff to the extent of Gallagher Command Centre.

This type of security alert is of increasing concern for many educational institutions, prompting renewed focus on daily security protocols.

Integrated and scalable security system

Essential to providing an optimum learning environment for students is ensuring their safety and security – a responsibility the district of Harrisburg takes extremely seriously. Key to this was partnering with a security solutions provider that understood the specific needs of educational institutions, with the flexibility to employ customised features that could be tailored to Harrisburg’s particular requirements.

The system needed to be fully integrated, scalable and expandable, digitally based, user-friendly

The system needed to be fully integrated, scalable and expandable, digitally based, user-friendly and crucially, to assist and not replace, existing manual security procedures. Gallagher and South Dakota based Integrated Technology & Security completed the initial installation within three weeks. Since its introduction, the system has been under continual expansion.

Features of updated security solution

The access control system originally installed in 2013, fulfilled the region’s initial security requirements; however, a period of growth prompted the need for an enhanced system that could protect the increasing number of students.

Some of the features of Harrisburg’s upgraded security solution included:

  • Outlook calendar integration, to enable scheduling of access for special events
  • Intercom / phone integration, to control doors from a desktop icon or smartphone
  • Strobe light control to provide lockdown notifications in hearing impaired areas such as deaf education, shops and the gym
  • Intercom integration for lockdown announcements

Command Centre provides enterprise level lockdown controls which limit access to buildings, control fire doors, and send notifications, while providing an audit trail and video alerts.

Lockdown access to all staff members

An understanding of the benefits of an advanced, interactive security network is essential, and in some cases, lifesavingUsability is a highlight of Command Centre, offering access for all levels of personnel. Initially, only office and administrative staff were trained in the use of lockdown systems, but as the Command Centre’s lockdown features have developed, all staff members can now control access in individual school buildings. Once a lockdown has been activated, a notification is automatically issued to district authorities, immediately alerting emergency services if required.

The security incident in 2015 strongly supported Harrisburg district’s decision to install a sophisticated access control system to protect its faculty, staff and students. At a time when concern over campus security is rising, an understanding of the benefits of an advanced, interactive security network is essential, and in some cases, lifesaving.

Gallagher’s security solution offers educational institutions around the world a combination of enhanced operational efficiency and cost savings. Command Centre’s software provides a powerful and versatile feature set, enabling system operators to configure, monitor and control their unique security system.