campus security: [September 2010]

Advances in Security Systems
From "Advances in Security Systems" by James R. Black, SecurityInfoWatch.com, July 27, 2010

Universities are implementing new strategies to take maximum advantage of advances in security technology. While major gains in communication have been made in the last decade, the newest methods smooth out a number of glitches. For example, sending tens of thousands of e-mails and/or text messages at once has overwhelmed systems and caused delays in getting word to intended recipients. New notification plans employ a multi-mode system strategy that incorporates high-tech, low-tech, and no-tech solutions. While text messaging remains an important component, others include radio, television, audio paging, instant messaging, phone calls, digital message boards, improved continuous awareness training, and emergency lights and sirens. Through cellular broadcasting, an institution can transmit a message to anyone near a particular cell tower. This technology reduces drain on network resources and increases system effectiveness.

Campus public safety officials have struggled with the inability to quickly lock down a building or series of buildings when necessary. Some campuses still use phone trees, relying on landline phone calls to instruct staff to manually close and lock facility access one building at a time, door by door. Many campuses are now upgrading traditional locks around the building perimeter to electrified locks connected to a centralized system. Such a system can assign pre-determined actions to a specific threat level.

Sophisticated, software-based security systems can provide powerful tools to support campus security and safety. However, the full potential of these systems is achieved only by systematically ensuring that a building’s complex array of systems is designed, installed, and tested to perform as intended - known in the building industry as "commissioning."

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