There’s a high demand for products and services in the safety and security realm, especially for K-12 and higher education procurement leaders preparing for their students and teachers to return to school. Your purchasing team plays a significant role in identifying and facilitating the use of the most innovative IT and facilities solutions to protect your young people and the educators working alongside them.
Are your campus or district buildings secure? What about each individual classroom? Do teachers, professors, and students know what steps to take in the event of an emergency? With students starting to head back to the classroom in just over a month, it’s crunch time to get the most reliable and accurate plans and products in place to reduce the risk of danger and injury.
Several districts and universities are leaning on the buying power, cost, and time savings that their cooperative purchasing organization can provide more seamlessly than the procurement team would achieve on their own. The cooperative purchasing path is typically the fastest, most direct route to getting your school equipped with health, safety, and security supplies.
Now let's hear the perspective from a K-12 school district procurement leader and learn key elements of purchasing for this category from a security industry expert.
Maryland District Leads Safety & Preparedness
As a procurement professional, you’ve likely already been looped into conversations and planning meetings with your safety and security office, facilities, and IT directors along with related end users to determine exactly what is needed to protect classrooms and campuses. Your school is dedicated to making sure each student has an opportunity to learn in a safe and supportive environment.
We spoke to Procurement Agent Sara Rowe from OMNIA Partners participant Harford County Public Schools (HCPS), about 30 miles northeast of Baltimore, serving 38,000 students at its 54 schools.
Rowe explains that their district is committed to the safety of students, teachers, and staff members, and says one of the district’s four Strategic Goals is to “provide safe, secure, and healthy learning environments that are conducive to effective teaching and learning, creativity, and innovation.”
The district recently released the results of the HCPS Safety, Security, and Crisis Preparedness Survey for parents, families, and community members to view, and HCPS will host two full days of safety training for staff over the summer, which the procurement team will also attend.
“The HCPS Procurement Department supports the safety and security of our stakeholders by collaborating to solicit contracts that meet the needs of staff and are made available when they are required,” says Rowe. “We ensure the contract terms and conditions align with our requirements through negotiation, when applicable. Procurement ensures that contracts are in place, budgeted appropriately, negotiated, and vetted.”
In their ongoing effort to increase safety, HCPS continues to engage its stakeholders (students, parents, staff, and community members) in meaningful dialogue about safety and security in all schools and district offices.
Security Expert Reveals What Procurement Needs to Know
In the current security climate, there’s an urgency to have all systems and stakeholders connected to avoid a siloed approach. To take a closer look at action steps your team can take, we're leveraging expertise from National Director of Government Security Solutions, Peter Van Kirk, with Safeware Government Security Solutions. Through his career spanning over 30 years in the industry, Van Kirk’s primary focus is the planning, design, and execution of complex IT, physical security, healthcare, and government process improvement projects.
Van Kirk says the most significant change in the security industry in the last few years has been the advancements in interoperability through master head-ends, which are also known as “command and control” platforms. These platforms enable one of the critical aspects of a successful security solution, pre-planning. Within pre-planning is the ability to provide as much cohesive situational awareness immediately to first responders so they can take appropriate action.
Van Kirk shared a sample scenario that procurement leaders can keep in mind as they work to purchase these types of solutions:
"Increase your ROI on your security by demanding a fully integrated command and control head-end
system with your existing security systems where technologically possible.
For example, let's say you buy a gunshot detection system embedded with your CCTV (video surveillance)
cameras, as this type of system has been trending. Imagine if that same CCTV/gunshot detection system also notifies and provides first responders with the live video feed without further interaction by an on-site individual. The pre-planning enabled the technology to perform this function, which is a great awareness data point for first responders.
Your existing security systems will deliver a longer and more useful life as these simple
endpoints act as one cohesive system."
OMNIA Partners supplier Safeware is a national leader in public preparedness with a focused group of safety products for K-12 schools and higher education institutions. The classroom safety offerings meet a variety of your needs including first aid (trauma kits, bus kits), school security (active aggressor prevention, lockdown, collapsible defense systems, metal detectors, etc), facilities supplies (fire extinguishers, lab safety equipment, maintenance, and janitorial, PPE) and more. Their team takes a consultative approach providing all stakeholders an opportunity to participate in open-format discussions.
Competitive Prices & Strong Relationships
Whether you’re looking to implement a new security system or equip your schools and campus with automated external defibrillators (AED), there are cooperative contracts to accommodate your unique needs. Facilities technology contracts are available to help your schools or campuses with the integration of security system services, while you can connect with safety and security industry experts for guidance through strong, long-standing cooperative supplier relationships.
As districts work to ensure safety on or off the school bus, streamlined parent communication and improved on-time bus route performance with lower costs, supplier partner Emergent provides an integrated cloud-based platform to connect your operations. You can gain end-to-end visibility into school bus operations with real-time GPS tracking, diagnostics and preventative maintenance, HD dash cams, live location sharing, student ridership tracking, and more. This is an opportunity for your procurement team to help provide smarter, safer, and more efficient transportation and school security for students.
As you search for contract savings, dedicated support, and a streamlined process, supplier partner School Specialty has carefully curated an extensive range of solutions designed to help you keep your students healthy, safe, and striving. On-staff safety experts can advise you on the best way to meet your district’s needs. Their wide array of solutions includes physical security, health and wellness, operation and emergency management, environmental safety, and transportation safety items.
Security, fire, and life safety systems are core to the operations of any K-12 facility, and OMNIA Partners supplier ADT Commercial can fully integrate your existing system with their access control systems, gunshot detection solutions, mass notification and emergency communications systems, video systems, remote monitoring and more. The suppliers mentioned above are just a few of our partners working to bring you the best offerings at competitive prices for a successful school year.
Spearhead Safety with Cooperative Purchasing
Procurement plays a significant role in rolling out safety and security measures as your team collaborates with stakeholders and end users to equip schools with innovative solutions. Having the ability to purchase cutting-edge products and services quickly and efficiently is imperative to ensure your organization runs smoothly.
Through our school solutions, your procurement team has quick and easy access to a seamless purchasing experience as you prep for the next school year.