Choosing the right sensor is vital for good vape detection

Tackling the rise of vaping among young people has become a focus for central and local government with schools and colleges ending up on the frontline of vape detection.

Many schools, in the state and independent sector, were already looking to monitor and manage vaping because of the disruption it was causing for them. However, the public concern has meant more schools than ever are looking for a solution to help them reduce the number of their students vaping.

There are now a range of smart sensors available that are marketed as vape detectors, but potential buyers need to look closely at the technical specifications to understand what is actually being monitored rather than simply looking at the price of a product and what it claims to do.

This is important for schools for although budgets are tight, particularly within the state sector, asking more questions about whether these products are well-made, durable and actually work in the school or college environment, will save a lot of frustration and money in the longer term.

Will air quality monitoring detect vape?

One of the latest vape sensors on the market claims to detect vape using a PM2.5 Laser Scattering Sensor. This is a form of air quality monitoring that uses a laser directed through a flow of air which then picks up particles deflected in the laser’s light. This latest product is able to detect particulates in the air and it means the sensor will detect fine particulate matter – with a diameter of two-and-one-half microns (short for micrometer, one millionth of a metre). Vape detectors that specify they also provide air quality monitoring such as identifying small particulates are providing a useful service.

The monitor could be picking up pollen, dust mites, bacteria, mould spores or tobacco smoke so notifications about this will help you improve indoor air quality which could be affecting people’s health, although if you want vape detection you may be facing a lot of false alarms that could waste staff time.  Therefore, while air quality monitoring is a helpful addition to the specification of a vape detector, a PM2.5 sensor alone might not be a sufficient tool. This is because to detect vape requires a range of sensor specifications for users to be confident in the accuracy of the findings.

Purely detecting air quality is also unlikely to give school leaders the granulated data they need to talk to students about vaping. For instance, students maybe covering up vaping by spraying aerosols, and unfortunately students maybe also be vaping illicit products, including adding THC juice to vapes. THC is a core ingredient of cannabis.

Guaranteeing the accuracy of vape detection

School leaders and others looking for a vape detector therefore need to ensure they are considering smart sensors that actively monitor a range of particles, gases and other factors that can impact on the air. The manufacturers then will have designed the sensor to pick up the right combination of these factors to ensure that vape is detected.

We have selected US manufacturer, IPVideo Corporation, as our vape detector partner and we are confident that its HALO Smart Sensor is a reliable product for schools across the south-west of England and in South Wales.

The HALO uses a dynamic vape detection algorithm to automatically learn the environment and alert when vaping is detected. The HALO is also the only product that can alert and differentiate between vaping, vaping with THC, and intentionally masking vaping behaviour, by using aerosols to cover up vaping.

Quick notification of vaping events

When considering a vape detector you need to be sure you have a reliable method to notify you of vaping events. The Halo Smart Sensor is always providing vape detection with no delay in event notifications and alerts. When we supply a HALO, we will pre-stage it ready for the email alerts based on the list of email addresses you provide us. We will ensure the latest firmware is installed and that all your requirements for detection are set up correctly. Then the sensor will literally work out of the box once plugged into a POE cable.

Most importantly, unlike most other vape detectors, the HALO is a standalone device so once you have bought and installed it you are not obliged to have any ongoing costs. If you have multiple devices, it could be worth investing in a subscription for HALO Cloud as this will give you an online dashboard allowing to see all the notifications from the devices in one place and means you can see historical data, but this is your choice.

Additional features to support vape detection

Schools are often finding that it is not just the vaping itself, it is the anti-social behaviour that can be associated with this that also becomes a problem. This means other pupils become worried about going to the toilets and there is more noise caused when several children congregate and sometimes toilet blocks become vandalised.

The HALO has the ability to detect abnormal noise levels, which could also suggest aggression between students. When an incident occurs like this it is important that school leaders get notifications quickly. When the smart sensor is installed, it will literally learn what the normal sound levels are within its environments and then will send alerts when a threshold above normal is detected for a specified length of time. We can support you to ensure that your thresholds for this are correct and you do not get false alerts.

Meanwhile, the HALO also comes with pre-loaded keywords to allow people to call for help which means if there is aggressive or bullying behaviour between pupils this could be picked up.

If students become suspicious of a new sensor within a toilet block there is a potential that they will become a target for the students to tamper with or they may try and remove the vape detector. The HALO will detect if it is being interfered with and a notification will be sent seconds after the detection. Additionally, if students try to tamper with the device, they will not be able to damage it because it has an IK 10 rating making it vandal resistant.

A vape detector that is purely focusing on air quality monitoring will not be able to sense any of the anti-social behaviour or be able to provide support in emergencies and maybe too flimsy a device to withstand the school environment, which could be costly in the long term.

We will support you with vape monitoring

The HALO Smart Sensor, is in reality a three-in-one health, safety and vape detector and this means its monitoring capabilities will be truly reliable. The latest model of the HALO, the 3C, has additional features that provide extra features for emergency situations and will become the default version once stocks of the HALO 2C are finished.

We can work with schools and colleges to ensure you have the right number of HALO smart sensors to maximise vape detection. While others on the market may claim to do the job, you need to take the time to consider all the features of a vape detector to ensure you purchase the right product. We can supply, and can carry out installations if required, to schools in south-west England and south Wales, so please contact us to find out more.