University of Kent Uses SafeZone for City-Wide Initiative

SafeZone had been used by the University of Kent to ensure student wellbeing and safety since 2016 – then, in 2020, the security department identified potential to go further.

Head of Security, Mark Arnold, formulated a new strategy using SafeZone as the cornerstone technology, to develop an ambitious city-wide initiative that would further improve student safety, confidence, and satisfaction. He saw it as a way to build collaboration among a wider network of stakeholders including businesses, public agencies, other local institutions, and emergency services, with a new vision of ‘connecting people and places’.

The university has a broad programme and a high proportion of international students and staff. It has expanded rapidly over the last decade and teaches 20,000 students at its campuses in Canterbury and Medway, and study centres in European capitals including Brussels and Paris.

The security department already used SafeZone to give every student and staff member easier access to support, regardless of location; to help improve incident responses; and for targeted mass communications in emergencies. Now a new Connected Routes initiative was introduced to deliver even more benefits.

New partnerships establish safer walking routes across the city

The University of Kent security department has collaborated with neighbouring Canterbury Christchurch University, students’ union representatives, the local authority, and key stakeholder agencies to develop a network of safer walking routes. These way-marked ‘Connected Routes’ now allow a combined population of 40,000 students to access enhanced support 24/7 not just when they are on campus, but whenever they are travelling between key locations, including campus and faculty buildings, Canterbury city centre, destinations that are popular with students, and accommodation facilities.

Any activation of SafeZone by a user, along any part of these routes, allows both universities’ control room operators to see their precise location and identity of the caller. Officers can check any recorded risk factors or vulnerabilities linked with that individual, and provide immediate, appropriate advice and support. Based on the responder’s assessment, the person requesting help may be directed to the closest refuge point, sent a taxi, put in contact with friends or family, or given assistance from patrolling street marshals or emergency services.

The refuge points have been set up in a wide range of accessible locations, including the cathedral, the railway station, local shops and garages, and a McDonalds restaurant.

The Connected Routes initiative has been warmly welcomed by students, local businesses and residents. Following its success, the university will be introducing the same service at its Medway campus. This will further enhance protection, and a cohesive, positive learning experience, for students travelling the 30-plus miles between the two locations for study or social activities.

Meanwhile, SafeZone continues to provide enhanced communications and protection for students wherever they are working, including on overseas placements.

Multiple benefits, with enhanced services welcomed by students and staff

The University of Kent originally deployed SafeZone to support its crisis management policy, but it has since delivered multiple benefits and is enabling services that are highly valued by students and staff.

  • Providing rapid access to first aid, wellbeing and security assistance, especially for vulnerable students
  • Enabling centralised control and response to all requests from all university locations
  • Providing reassurance to staff, students, and their families, maintaining a welcoming and safe learning environment
  • Providing detailed insights, with enhanced domain awareness and heat mapping, to improve security officer and resource deployment
SafeZone has enabled us to build partnerships across the city, and to extend our duty of care for students and staff far beyond the boundaries that previously limited us. The improvements we continue to make have been warmly welcomed by staff, students and their families.
Mark Arnold, Head of Security

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