Schools Need to be on Alert (and be Alerted) as Vaping Reaches Three Million Students – Part III

Unfortunately, this is where some schools have blurred the line between security and invasion of privacy. Recently an Alabama principal made headlines after he ordered the removal of the doors in several of his school’s bathroom stalls. In that Alabama case, the doors were put back in one week later after parents issued concerns about their children’s privacy. In another effort, a school district in Texas required students to roll up their sleeves when entering school in an attempt to prevent them from hiding e-cigarettes. Neither action was particularly popular with patents, but it shows the extremes schools are going through to stem the rising tide. But there are better alternatives.

Advancements in technology have given security companies the ability to integrate these restroom vape detectors so that alerts for any infractions can be sent in real time to the appropriate parties’ phone and emails. It can also be integrated into the school’s Security/Video systems. In addition, the technology exists to integrate with cameras outside the restrooms, so as to monitor who enters and leaves correspondent to when the infractions occur. This means that if Larry and Billy walk out of the bathroom minutes after the vaping detector signals a time-stamped message to the principal’s email, you can be pretty sure that they’re doing something that they’re not supposed to be doing. Installers can also adjust and maximize the settings for the room’s environment, thus removing false alarms that other sensors might get from body and disinfectant sprays. Integration can also be set up to pinpoint where the infraction occurs, so alerts are sent to a teacher on the 2nd floor if there is an infraction in the 2nd floor bathroom, etc. The device can also be wired into a PoE-enabled network. This is important because it makes it easier to connect to an existing network, with less work required.

There’s no denying that schools are embracing this technology as the ill-effects of vaping become more and more prominent in the news. And that’s without factoring in that along with the obvious health risks, vaping has also caused additional problems as e-cigarettes are being flushed down toilets, resulting in school having to dole out thousands of dollars in custodial and plumbing fees. But what price-tag do we place on the health and safety of our most precious cargo. Once a student walks through the front door, his well-being is in the hands of a dedicated staff, dedicated to not only educate, but to protect.

More and more schools are investing heavily in placing vape detectors in their restroom, with reports of one Ohio school district doling out over $60,000 to put vape detectors in their bathrooms. Plus, there are additional costs for programming, integration, etc. So it makes sense that schools should seek out trained installers to maximize their return with real-time communications.


Ways to track vaping in school restrooms has increased dramatically over the years as more and more companies are creating sophisticated vaping detectors, some that even have the capabilities to detect loud noises, which can be an indication of bullying, breaking glass, and other possible violent or anti-social behavior.

New York’s Plainedge High School was among the first to install new bathroom vape sensors that can detect e-cigarette. Few students have been caught so far, but officials say that isn’t a sign of failure “The truth of the matter is the kids see it, they know what it is and it in itself is a deterrent,” said Edward Salina, superintendent of Plainedge Public Schools.

“We’ve seen significant increases across the student body,” said Robert Keuther, principal at Marshfield High School on the south shore of Massachusetts. “This is not something specific to one group of kids. It’s across all of my grades, nine to 12. It’s all students.”

Taking the short route between detection and prevention

But as a school administrator, when it comes to having vaping detectors in bathrooms you have to take the next logical step, which is to have the technology available to not only detect but do what needs to be done to also prevent (i.e. catch the perpetrators). And to that end, many security companies are now working with schools and vape detection manufacturers that are making these detection devices available to schools throughout the country.

These vaping sensors can be installed in bathrooms where it will detect vapor from electronic cigarettes in real time, including the detection of THC oil, a chemical found in both e-cigarettes and marijuana. Still, detection is only as useful as the ability to monitor that detection.

But how do you monitor something in an area where cameras are not permitted?

Watch for Part 3 of our Vaping Blog

Security Game Changers

Security’s most recent game changers are system integration and Web-based applications. Beside the details embedded in much emerging technology, security leaders should keep a sharp eye on “game changers.”

Just yesterday, the game changer was the concept of an application or “app” store pioneered by Apple and its iPhone. These apps extend the use of a smart device and allowed users to do more with less hardware. It pushed the security professions forward as security products integrated with smart phones and other smart devices.

When internet protocol or IP was a new concept we all had to adapt to security video, access control, communications and power being delivered over Ethernet. It change things. Then, came the introduction of virtualization. Ethernet and virtualization were ways to deliver the same product in a faster, more reliable, and overall better way and it brought us to places we have not been before.

Security products that are game changers enhance the value of the work that we do which typically leads to increased sales. It opens doors and allows us the ability to impress our existing customers and create new business relationships, specifically with key stakeholders.

You don’t have to change the way you do things for each game changing moment, but not acknowledging the benefits of them can stunt your business.