September 29, 2021
Enhancing Physical Security at K–12 Schools
Solutions such as video surveillance systems can help districts keep students safe.
We interviewed Tim Gershon, a CDW physical security expert, about CDW’s unique role in helping K–12 schools enhance their physical security needs.
What is your role within CDW•G?
I am the district manager for our K–12 Southern California/Hawaii education team. I also serve on our School Safety and Physical Security Customer Priority Council, where my primary responsibilities include partner vetting and onboarding, account manager training and enablement, and working with our integrated technology engineers to develop and enhance our internal capabilities. This helps our customers overcome their common challenges and barriers so ultimately they can achieve their school safety priorities.
What are some of the common themes, trends and challenges facing customers?
In addition to cybersecurity and network security, physical security or “school safety” is quickly becoming one of our customers’ top priorities in 2021. The pandemic certainly accelerated the trend, but it was already well underway.
Districts want to put together a strong physical security posture that incorporates access control, enhanced video surveillance, alerting and monitoring, vape detection, student health and other capabilities. But they’re challenged for a few reasons:
- Historically, school facilities teams have managed these projects. But now, as these cameras hit the network, districts are struggling internally with who takes ownership: Is it the facilities team or the IT team?
- The list of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the space is rapidly growing, and that comes with its own set of challenges in terms of vetting a vast list of products and ensuring they’re interoperable.
- Districts face growing public pressure to implement these solutions, but they’re uncertain about where to go for funding. Schools have a wide array of funding options, but they don’t seem to truly understand just how much funding is available. There’s the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) program and the School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP), but there are certainly others out there as well.
- Finally, districts are challenged to find one vendor or solution provider that can cover it all, including enhanced video surveillance, alerting and monitoring, analytics and installation, as well as the required back-end network, data center, security and collaboration infrastructure required to support it.
That’s a laundry list of challenges. How does your team address it?
Similar to our other solution architects — for networking, data center, security, etc. — who are free value-added experts, we have dedicated expert resources who specialize in K–12 physical security. They’re trained in all of the major OEMs in the space and can give customers a true, unbiased opinion on the pros and cons of each solution. They’re able to do that because CDW partners with all of them, and in most cases we are their largest partner. That team of experts offers consultations, training and hands-on support.
What’s truly unique about your practice?
We’re one of the few solutions providers that can truly cover it all. We can design and implement the entire enhanced video surveillance solution, but also the required network, data center, security and collaboration architecture required to support and enable these solutions. And when you can access the collective volume of all of those solutions from one provider in CDW•G, you’re able to drive costs down significantly and eliminate the headache of having to manage multiple partners and OEMs.
In addition to our array of free assessment and design services, we offer implementation and ongoing management services as well. We truly provide the full end-to-end solution for our customers.
Story by Tim Gershon, TBD