Ensuring the safety and well-being of its learners, staff and visitors is one of the most important elements of any school’s risk management strategy – and now schools also need to consider the health and well-being of these communities post Covid-19.

Placing technology that enables safety at the heart of the school, offers a long term solution for these challenges as well as enhancing business and educational applications, says Nashua’s CEO Barry Venter.

Partnering with Professionals

Schools need to implement all possible control measures and safety procedures as required by Government to be compliant in a new Covid-19 world, says Venter.

“Nashua helps customers prepare for the next normal as lockdown levels are eased by offering expertise and turn-key solutions that ensure safe, flexible learning environments to protect our teachers and children.”

Technology for Daily Screening and Record Keeping

Over and above recommended personal protective equipment (masks, gloves and hand sanitiser), schools need to implement proactive screening solutions that identify elevated skin temperatures:

“Fever screening thermographic cameras use advanced detectors and algorithms to detect elevated skin-surface temperatures rapidly and accurately without requiring physical contact – you can assess someone from 5m away in less than one second.”

The device can be connected to a PC, smartphone or network video recorder and trigger an alarm when it detects elevated skin temperatures – or individuals without masks. The temperature range for detection can be set as desired for alert generation.

They also permit temperature detection in groups of people, so there is no need for queues which will assist in reducing any bottle necks at access control points. Built-in artificial intelligence recognises the difference between someone carrying hot coffee and an elevated temperature, so false-alarms are no longer a concern.

The checking of temperatures is set to become a routine practice everywhere and thermographic cameras will make access control procedures swifter and hassle-free and guarantee that accurate data records are readily available.

Technology for Safety and Security

Almost 970 school have been vandalised since the start of lockdown in SA, with administration blocks and laboratories targeted by criminals, and information and communications technology equipment stolen.

Venter says it’s no longer sufficient for schools to only implement technology that enables e-learning.

“Schools also have to consider technologies that can improve their security, particularly after hours, when nobody is on the premises. Physical barriers such as walls and security gates are easily overcome by thieves. Schools need to take the next step and turn to technology to protect their assets.”

He explains that surveillance cameras can be used to provide proactive surveillance solutions, biometrics are used to control access and everything can be monitored, either onsite or remotely via monitoring centres. “Security measures can include surveillance systems that cover all the identified security risks points, as well as biometrics access and facial recognition technologies that prevent any unwanted people from entering the schools.

“Today’s cameras show events in full colour, even at night. This allows a more accurate reflection of events, even in poorly lit areas. Accurate colour rendering results in clearer details and can reduce false alarms. Modern surveillance cameras also incorporate artificial intelligence that sends live notifications of breaches, so criminals can potentially be caught in the act.”

Advances in technology can not only improve the overall security of your premises, they can also provide valuable information in the event of an insurance claim.

Parents can also register for access via biometrics access and facial recognition, preventing any unwanted people from entering schools.

Technology for learning

Various kinds of technology are available for use in education, ranging from interactive whiteboards and computers to multifunctional devices and connectivity solutions.

“A simple technology that has a significant impact in the classroom is the interactive whiteboard – essentially a large, interactive display screen that can connect to a PC or projector, allowing teachers to write, erase, edit, save, print as well as record audio, live in the classroom. It’s also possible to project images onto the whiteboard and write over them to highlight points made in the lesson; this visual can be saved and shared with learners.”

A further enhancement to the basic whiteboard is the use of Interactive flat panel LED boards that reduce the need for projectors or pc’s altogether bringing together a seamless integrated learning approach that can utilise various applications natively.

Access to a computer lab and Internet connectivity has become an essential requirement. “This requires Internet access and learning institutions benefit from access to a wireless or fibre link for data, as opposed to legacy ADSL. Once the school has access to a connectivity solution, adding a Voice Over IP (VOIP) system can be done easily which will help in reducing traditional call costs.

Technology for the Business of Schools

Venter says Nashua specialises in tailoring workspace solutions for businesses, including schools, in terms of both budget and processes.

“Our approach incorporates the use of products like Microsoft Office 365 for Education, Microsoft Teams for collaboration, coupled with our seamless VOoIP solutions, End Point protection and backup solutions deployed on the world’s leading computing brands. Our solutions will help you connect from the cloud to the classroom”

Technology that is affordable

While all of the above may seem beyond the reach of the average school from a financial point of view, Venter says that rental options allow schools to invest in technology without taking lump sums of cash out of their yearly allocation.