Addressing Top Security Threats on College Campuses

Campus life has changed and continues to change. The idealized and hallowed halls of Good Will Hunting no longer represent the realities of modern college life. There’s no such thing as a “typical” co-ed. Furthermore, the culture of university life is ever-evolving to attract a diverse range of potential students and faculty, retain already-matriculated scholars and high-performing professors, and to foster engaged alumni. Protecting students, faculty, and staff from ever-present threats ranging from theft to violent assault needs to be a key part of an institution’s strategy. To ensure success, campus security needs to be a top priority for not only on-site security personnel but also for campus leaders.

According to the most recent statistics available, 27,600 criminal incidents against persons and property on campus at public and private 2- and 4-year postsecondary institutions were reported in 2013 (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics). The results of a survey published by Cisco entitled “Campus Safety: 5 Advances in Physical Security for Higher Education,” found that 41% of campuses struggle with visitor management, 50% cannot lock down more than 75% of their campus, 39% admitted that video surveillance systems are not integrated with physical access control systems, and a third of respondents have radio communication systems that cannot be linked with those of first responders.

To address campus security in a smart, systematic, and effective way, campus leaders must take a strategic approach.

Develop a Physical Security Plan

Campus security officers need to be prepared for any number of threats such as campus shooters, public intoxication, unruly crowds, drug and alcohol abuse, violent assault, arson, breaking and entering, and more. A robust security plan should take a number of factors into consideration such as the specific needs of a particular campus, accessibility, ease-of-use, access control, emergency notification, and due diligence.

Create an Emergency Management Plan

As part of your physical security strategy, educational institutions should also implement a comprehensive emergency management plan. The National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) launched a Campus Safety and Security Project that determined that an effective campus emergency management plan should:

  • Comprehensively cover over all potential threats.
  • Anticipate future disasters and have the capability to grow and be progressive.
  • Use sound risk management principles that realistically determine priorities and allocate resources appropriately.
  • Have full-campus buy-in, integration, and unity among offices, leadership, and stakeholders.
  • Foster engagement, trust, and communication among the entire campus community.
  • Be coordinated, so efforts are aligned and complementary.
  • Use innovative, creative, and flexible approaches to campus-wide security.
  • Rely on fact, science, technology, and knowledge-based approaches.

Use Advances in Technology to Keep Your Campus Secure

While walkie talkies and golf carts still have an important role in campus security, there are many ways to use technology to keep students, faculty, and staff members safe and to foster a rich educational environment. For example, universities can reduce costs and improve overall campus safety by using a secure campus IP network. This allows security teams to execute coordinated lock downs, manage visitors effectively, send notifications, and communication with local first responders.

Deploy Security Systems Across all Campuses

Although budgets are tight in the university world, it makes good sense to install a new security system across all campus locations. This ensures your emergency management strategies align across locations and that institutional budgets are not being spent down unnecessarily on unreliable security patches and “quick and easy” solutions. Centralized deployment may also mean fewer hours spent on individualized training and promote lower staffing requirements because security teams can monitor a number of different campuses from one strategic location. Campuses who invest in centralized security also enjoy savings on server costs.

Control Access with Keyless Entry Systems

Knowing who’s on campus, where they are, and how long they’ve been on-site is critically important to campus security. Biometric locks, electronic key fobs, and personalized entry badges are all viable methods of managing visitors and controlling access.

Creating a Physical Security Perimeter That’s Integrate with Visual Surveillance

Controlling access points and proving security teams with visual access to all points on campus ensures the safety of campus community members. From HDCCTV to custom fencing, all components of your campus security plan should be integrated, complement each other, and be easy for security teams to monitor and use.

Promote learning and foster a collegial environment on campus by working with a licensed and registered commercial security vendor. Contact Herring Technologies for more information about developing a strong and comprehensive campus security plan.