school children running down hallway

3 Ways Mobile Access Helps Strengthen K-12 School Safety

Mobile credentials, when used with the first responder door numbering system for card reader locations, are a true game changer. They offer un-matched rapid emergency response for law enforcement and EMS personnel. When used in combination with mobile duress (pinpoint accuracy) and secure vestibule entrances (door #1), they could easily become the next ‘standard issue’ in the first responder toolbelt. 

Mobile credentials offer solutions for emergency situations across all hazards in the K-12 environment.  As an incident command tool for multiple mass campus events where every school is put on lockdown, they are invaluable; enhancing the ability for students to learn and teachers to teach.

— Guy Grace, Vice-Chairman, Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (

Threats to schools have increased in unimaginable ways resulting in a heightened need to prevent, protect against and mitigate security risks and emergency situations. As the threats have evolved, so too have approaches to keeping students, staff and teachers safe.

One giant area of advancement has come in the form of mobile access; mobile access has become an invaluable tool for managing safety protocols within the school system. This blog will cover three key ways that mobile access enhances the protection of our most valuable resource: our kids.

1. Mobile Access Reduces Response Time for Any Kind of Emergency 

In a K-12 emergency, every second counts. When we think of school emergencies, our minds often leap to worst case scenarios, but the reality is that there is a wide range of regularly occurring incidents requiring rapid response times. Mobile access gives every administrator, school police officer, SRO and nurse an all-access credential — right in their pocket — ready to deliver critical help to the exact location required, for every health situation, playground mishap or act of violence.  

Mobile credentials, used in combination with a standardized first responder door numbering system, give EMS and law enforcement teams an unmatched ability to conduct a rapid emergency response for any kind of scenario. In lockdown situations, if EMS and law enforcement have been provided mobile credentials, they are able to immediately enter the building rather than wait for a key, a key card or access to the Knoxbox by the fire department. The responder’s mobile phone or wearable is tied to the school’s unified access control system and the emergency mass notification system. Use of the credential would notify all district stakeholders and, in essence, be equivalent to “pulling a fire alarm” when it is presented to the card reader on the outside of the building. 

2. Cloud-Based Mobile Access Combines With Video Surveillance for Real-Time Accuracy

Not being able to see or understand the nature of a threat creates unnecessary and dangerous confusion and misdirection. Too often, once the exterior of a building has been breached, administrators and emergency responders have little to no visibility into situations unfolding within. 

Cloud-based access control systems connect and unify otherwise disparate parts of your security infrastructure, like video surveillance, intrusion detection points and chat management systems. Teachers, staff and students situated in various parts of the building — confirmed through live video feeds — can be alerted by mobile messages on how and when to safely exit. No longer do response teams have to guess what is happening within the school. With cloud-based physical security, system administrators can retrieve the information they need to make critical decisions quickly — and the means to deliver this information to the people who need it most.  

The ability to have complete visualization and situational awareness are a critical enabler to district-wide school hardening. Real-time threat response gives security personnel the ability to command, contain, control and communicate. Mobile access on all campus building doors empowers rapid response. 

3. Mobile Access Delivers Time and Cost Savings for Administration

Another key area of vulnerability is lost or misplaced access cards. Tracking down, re-issuing and decommissioning lost and stolen ID cards is expensive from a physical and time perspective. However, people are much less likely to leave, lend or lose their mobile phones than they are a separate card credential. With mobile access, a new credential is easily initiated through a fast and secure email. 

Additionally, two-factor authentication (2FA) can be set up for added security. If a user’s smartphone is stolen or missing, and 2FA authentication has been turned on, an extra layer of security will be required to open any application. 

School districts will always need ID badges. But when the badges also act as the door entry system for employee access, this could be a vulnerability. This also applies to substitute teachers, custodians, maintenance, visitors, food service vendors and contractors.

Additionally, mobile access provides invaluable data about who and when resources are accessed. With advanced cloud-based security software, administrators can restrict access to specific user types, individuals and timeframes.

Eliminate Uncertainty and Modernize School Protection With Mobile Access

When it comes to schools, the assets we are protecting are priceless. Mobile access brings a higher degree of action and timing to the visibility, coordination and responsiveness that cannot be duplicated with brass keys or plastic cards. 

With new security mandates being passed by state and national lawmakers, this becomes an added challenge for school security managers and their support staff. As an example, Alyssa’s Law has currently been passed in four states and requires that Silent Panic Alarm Technology (SPAT) duress buttons be installed by the school district and worn by all employees. This empowers school employees to alert the authorities when there is an emergency event requiring first responders to enter the building. These mobile wearable alarms deliver a signal with positioning in the building. 

When mobile credentials and door numbering systems are in use, these SPAT devices become even more effective, allowing for a unified system capable of delivering alerts with pinpoint accuracy within the building, visualization into the event, situational awareness around the event, and critical communication to first responders. 

Learn how Genea’s cloud-based security system, built on non-proprietary HID-Mercury Hardware, transformed and streamlined security for Vestavia Hills School District >> 

Learn about the operational and safety benefits of HID Mobile Access technology >>