School systems, colleges and universities are investing heavily to ensure their facilities adequately protect students from an increasingly unstable outside world.

According to School Planning & Management’s Seventh Annual School Construction Report, $20 billion worth of spending went into school projects in 2002.

American School & University’s 28th Annual Official Education Construction Report (May 2002), suggests that security/life safety work was included in 29 percent of school retrofit projects and 43 percent of college retrofits in 2001. The projections for 2002-2004 indicate a continued, if not growing, trend toward modernization of education facilities.

In new construction, 100 percent of all elementary, middle and high school projects that began in 2002 required the installation of “security equipment,” according to School Planning & Management’s annual report. Among additions and modernization work, security equipment was put into about 78 percent of elementary school projects, 79 percent of middle school work and 90 percent of additions in high schools.

Also, “alarm systems” were part of nearly 85 percent of elementary additions, while 95 percent of both middle and high school additions required alarm systems work.

These numbers indicate a pattern of growth in the installation of security and life safety systems in the education market. What they don’t tell us is how much more spending will come as a result of Sept. 11, 2001 and continued terrorism awareness. Education construction spending budgets in 2002, in most cases, did not include beefed up security to thwart the threat of terrorism. However, many 2003 school construction budgets factor it in as a priority. In addition, government funds are either in place or on the way to assist in better preparing schools and colleges to defend against attacks. Couple spending data with a ramping up of overall vigilance and surveillance, and you have an equation for broader implementation of the latest in security and life safety technology.

Closed-circuit television (CCTV), access control, perimeter security, motion detection and even biometrics will all better prepare schools against the many dangers that surround them. To accomplish greater protection, professionals must embrace a team approach. That means the people who install these systems (contractors) must work closely with those who design them (integrators, designers) and those who have to manage them (colleges and schools). Contractors, integrators and facility managers must communicate well and understand each other’s needs and wants to accomplish successful projects.

Inside this debut edition of SECURITY+ LIFE SAFETY, we provide two major project profiles to demonstrate the effectiveness of sound communications and a team approach. The projects take us to school districts in northern New Jersey and the Chicago area, but they represent what’s happening around the nation.

You will also find feature stories on CCTV, access control, biometrics and motion detection. SECURITY + LIFE SAFETY will also deliver the latest on fire alarms, power quality, legal matters, codes and standards, and new products, not to mention news and trend information. Look for this special report six times in 2004.