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Physical threats: How higher education campuses are using IT to elevate safety

Cameras, alert systems and mobile apps help boost protection

November 01, 2019

Physical threats: How higher education campuses are using IT to elevate safety
The Ohio State shooting. The Yale lab murder. The Virginia Tech massacre. In recent years, higher education campuses have witnessed more and more tragic acts of violence. What happened to campus safety?
According to data from the US Naval Postgraduate School, 2018 was by far the worst year on record for gun violence in schools. A database, going back to 1970, shows there were more incidents and more deaths in 2018 than any other year on record.
How are higher education institutions responding to the increase in on-campus emergencies and physical threats? With a powerful arsenal of IT solutions. Modern technology and real-time data analytics are helping universities improve their security protocols and quickly alert students, faculty and staff to dangers on campus.
Consider these technologies at work:
IP network cameras provide necessary surveillance. Keeping a keen eye on campus is critical for maintaining safety. Unlike analog closed-circuit cameras, IP network cameras are controlled remotely through a LAN and don’t require a separate recording device. This enables campus police to monitor live feed and review past video more quickly. Officers can view the feed from any camera from a central command center, which provides more flexibility to monitor the entire campus. With real-time data analytics software, officers have help monitoring camera feeds to identify specific behavior patterns or suspicious activity.
Universities can also combine analytics software with video surveillance to measure campus traffic patterns and monitor building occupancy to help decrease car crashes or avoid creating fire hazards. For example, if students congregate outside a building—which could block people from entering or leaving if an emergency were to happen—video analytics software can detect this and alert security officials to get involved and disperse that group.
Seamless alert systems spread notifications quickly. Whether there’s a pending hurricane, an active assailant on campus or a fire in the chemistry building, universities need a way to alert all students, faculty and staff to the present danger. But there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to the solution. Some campuses have installed beacon technology in strategic places to push notifications to all mobile phones. On other campuses, administrators can push visual alerts through digital signage.     
Mobile communication applications enable students to report suspicious activity. Unlike alert systems, which are largely one-sided push notifications, communication apps for mobile devices empower students to be more eyes and ears on the ground. Students can use these communication apps to report incidents, emergencies and updates to campus officials in real-time, which gives administrators and campus police more information for decision-making.  
To learn how you can help colleges and universities implement technology to boost on-campus security, contact the Ingram Micro public sector team.