Shattering Campus Security Myths for Universities – Part I


The safety and security teams at universities are facing expanding responsibilities and campus expansion, combined with stagnant staffing and funding. These pressures are leading many security leaders to explore new technology in search of relief.

Before you begin to consider options, it’s important to first clear up several misperceptions about what is and isn’t feasible when protecting thousands of students, faculty, and staff across one or more campuses.  Here, we review some of the myths of campus security at universities worldwide. [This is the first of a two-part series.]

Myth 1: Mass notification systems are limited as they can only broadcast messages to everyone registered on the system.  There’s no intelligence on the actual, live location of a given individual which would support customized messaging by location. In addition, mass notification systems can’t support individualized communication with select individuals.

Reality: When a widespread incident affects hundreds of people, the functionality does exist to obtain the real-time location of individual students or staff.  This enables your team to send targeted messages, based upon the proximity of individuals to the incident. Furthermore, as needed, you can communicate one-to-one with select individuals and gather information or provide further instructions.

Myth 2: Incident management technology does not support executing different response protocols at different locations depending on the resources available to respond to that issue (e.g. dedicated security team, outsourced security, ad-hoc response resources, local law enforcement, contracted remote resources). 

Reality: Technology does exist which enables your command center to implement different response protocols, depending on the location, the type of incident and the resources your team has available to respond.

Myth 3: When students travel domestically or internationally, there’s no efficient way to: a) Determine the real-time location of all those travelling; b) Send advisories to those impacted in case of an impending threat, c) Quickly check in with all those impacted by an incident to verify they’re OK (e.g. terror attack in Paris or earthquake in New Zealand); and d) Conduct real-time coordination and ongoing support as circumstances warrant.

Reality: There are solutions which enable your campus safety & security team to not only know the real-time GPS-based location of students and faculty abroad but also check-in with those in close proximity to an incident to verify if they’re OK and if not, coordinate assistance as needed. This is particularly helpful for students studying abroad, sports teams and student clubs.

Myth 4: It’s not feasible for command and dispatch teams to view the real-time location and availability of patrol officers and all first responders (contracted security guards, fire marshals, and volunteers), and to direct and deploy specific individuals or groups of first responders for optimal response to each incident.

Reality: If you don’t know where your resources are, you can’t effectively deploy them.  Actually, technology does exist which can share the location of all your first responders so you can deploy specific teams to optimize your team’s response to each incident.

Myth 5: There’s no easy and cost-effective way to know where and when your campus security team has patrolled, by shift, across all of your locations.

Reality: While this has been a limitation for many decades, campus security teams can review the patrol patterns of your team, by campus, week, day, shift, or hour so you can identify and address coverage gaps, as well as hold your team accountable to patrol as assigned. 

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