Logicalis recommends colleges consider three digital solutions to make campuses safer
NEW YORK March 7, 2017 When people talk about safety on college campuses, it's an unfortunate fact that many people's minds jump straight to active shooter scenarios. While such deadly incidents garner the top spot in news headlines, there are thousands of other incidents that never make the news, but deserve our utmost attention. For many students, college represents the first time they have been left to make their own decisions about what is safe and what isn't. And despite the efforts most colleges employ to create protected environments free from the elements of the outside world, thousands of assault cases are reported across American college campuses every year. What can be done? According to Logicalis US, an international IT solutions and managed services provider (www.us.logicalis.com), the first step is to get campus safety/facilities people and IT experts talking to one another.
"We're seeing a very unusual phenomenon taking place on college campuses nationwide," says Adam Petrovsky, GovEd Practice Leader, Logicalis US. "In the past, the technologies used for security and access control were all analog, and they were largely governed by the security or facilities teams directly. But as newer technologies came to market, the entire idea of security was transformed into a digital solution. Since IT and security were traditionally two separate departments, we've seen many college campuses that are now running dual networks with one complete network for security managed by the safety or facilities teams and another for all other technology services on campus managed by IT. This kind of redundancy of systems and personnel is very costly – and oftentimes less effective – than having a unified solution, so the first step is to get IT and security or facilities experts working in tandem to provide, monitor and support the most effective digital security solutions available."
Three Safety Technologies Every College Campus Needs
Criminals look for places where they believe they will be the most successful. Therefore, the key to reducing crime on college campuses is to be proactive in thwarting criminals' success by creating a technology-driven, visually aware, video surveillance and access-controlled campus with mass notifications for emergencies. Doing this – and talking about it publicly – will send criminals a "steer clear" message while giving prospective students and their families an increased level of comfort as students make the transition to daily college life.
- Video Surveillance: Newer video surveillance cameras run on an IP data network, which means they are less expensive and easier to make, install and maintain. The newer cameras aren't bandwidth hungry, either, and the quality of the video they deliver is so superior to their predecessors from even five years ago that they are becoming nearly ubiquitous in school systems everywhere. There are both wired and wireless solutions available, and even wireless solutions are capable of transmitting HD-quality, full-color video streams. Users can choose from motion-detected recordings or running a continuously recorded feed that is processed on site, then stored in the cloud.
As a result, today's campuses are installing commercial tamper-proof, ruggedized cameras at every intersection, on every building, and strategically peppering them inside buildings as well – and there's a two-fold advantage to doing this: First, studies show cameras can be a powerful deterrent to crime. And second, for those crimes that are committed, cameras that capture the crime in progress and can track the criminal's movements throughout the campus make it easier to identify – and prosecute – the perpetrator. With the sophistication of today's cameras, it's not unusual for a large university to have as many as 10,000 cameras on campus.
- Access Control: Today's newer systems make use of – yes, again, the IoT. Many college campuses today use proximity cards that are held or swiped at an entrance to electronically activate a sensor that unlocks the door. The problem with proximity cards is that, if they are lost, stolen or borrowed, the holder gains access to the property whether or not that person is authorized to do so. But today, with the IoT and the kind of near-field communications available on most cell phones, the phone itself can be used as a key to gain access to proximity sensors. Why is this better? While fingerprint and iris scanners are expensive and better suited to high-security areas rather than high-traffic areas, most newer cell phones have a biometric lock or key code which increases the likelihood that the user is the authorized party. Additionally, faculty members that need network authentication to lock or unlock a door can use their cell phone to quickly identify themselves.
With more modern access control systems, campuses can also control access through any entry point – a door or sequence of doors, windows, buildings, even entrances to the campus itself – through a series of exciter technologies. And, using IP technology, it's possible to automate cascading workflows that trigger key security solutions in a lockdown scenario – turning on video cameras or halting all access to a particular building, for example. However, before creating these automated security workflows, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced IT security consultant like Logicalis that can walk the management team through a variety of "if-this, then that" scenarios.
- Emergency Notification System: Another critical component to safety and security on college campuses is the ability to push mass notifications to groups of people which may include students, parents and staff as well as local law enforcement or other emergency personnel. Typically, these are automated calls that send either a text alert or voice message – or sometimes both – to recipients' cell phones or to a series of on-campus Cisco IP phones, for example, in classrooms or on faculty members' desks.
Most universities also have digital video displays in high-traffic areas throughout the campus. Typically offering information about sporting events or meals in the cafeteria, these displays can be overridden with a digital display management solution that will allow college security personnel to convey important safety messages to a widespread audience very quickly.
Before implementing new security technologies, Petrovsky suggests universities consult with a trusted IT solution provider who can assess their network infrastructure, data storage, and redundancy needs to ensure the new solution will work seamlessly with the existing infrastructure. It's also critical, he says, to conduct regular drills and to test emergency preparedness systems monthly to ensure they're ready to do their job when needed most.
Want to Learn More?
- Explore Logicalis' GovEd microsite to learn more about our expertise in IT solutions for government and education, then read our recent GovEd news as well as a series of related blog posts from Logicalis experts here: http://ow.ly/l8ug3099Psa.
- Learn about our custom-designed physical security solutions, then download a datasheet to see how Logicalis' GovEd practice can help colleges and universities use technology to provide a borderless digital learning environment: http://ow.ly/MY8O309ukJj.
- What are five of the top IT security challenges K12 CIOs face every day? Find out here: http://ow.ly/DBS53099Ppf.
Logicalis is an international multi-skilled solution provider providing digital enablement services to help customers harness digital technology and innovative services to deliver powerful business outcomes.
Our customers cross industries and geographical regions; our focus is to engage in the dynamics of our customers' vertical markets including financial services, TMT (telecommunications, media and technology), education, healthcare, retail, government, manufacturing and professional services, and to apply the skills of our 4,000 employees in modernizing key digital pillars, data center and cloud services, security and network infrastructure, workspace communications and collaboration, data and information strategies, and IT operation modernization.
We are the advocates for our customers for some of the world's leading technology companies including Cisco, HPE, IBM, NetApp, Microsoft, VMware and ServiceNow.
The Logicalis Group has annualized revenues of over $1.5 billion from operations in Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia Pacific. It is a division of Datatec Limited, listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and the AIM market of the LSE, with revenues of over $6.5 billion.
For more information, visit www.us.logicalis.com.