How Technology Is Improving Campus Security
DEC 20, 2016 19:25 PM
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How Technology Is Improving Campus Security

By Larry Alton

College campuses aren’t inherently more dangerous than other areas of the country, but with so many young people packed in one place, security is a natural concern. Campus shootings and attacks, rape culture, and other high-profile incidents are putting a spotlight on the importance of campus security, and colleges across the country are looking to new forms of technology to help address student and parent worries.

So how are colleges pushing the limits of what can be accomplished with security technology?

Technological Breakthroughs

These are some of the most important—and effective ways—colleges are taking action:

1.      Emergency communication protocols. Not all crimes can be prevented. In the event of a violent attack or a natural disaster, communication is key to keeping as many people as safe as possible, and with smartphones in almost every student’s pocket, there are more ways than ever to spread that information. Colleges today have the ability to send out mass text messages or mass phone calls alerting students to emergency situations (along with instructions on what to do or where to go). Collecting and transmitting this information quickly, and in a way that all students can access, has become a top priority for colleges everywhere.

2.      Anonymous crime reporting. Anonymous crime reporting online is becoming more popular on college campuses, as well as public encouragement of the use of these types of systems. Anonymous reporting spares victims or friends of victims the intimidation, fear, guilt, or trauma of reporting a crime formally. Overall, it can lead to a greater number of incident reports, and more justice or protection for the victims of those crimes.

3.      Monitoring in public areas. Monitoring is another major institution for college security, both for preventing incidents and responding to them quickly. Security cameras have been around for decades, but today’s high-tech world gives us access to smart cameras, which can turn in response to various types of activity, and can be remotely accessed by any personnel with the authority to view live feeds.

4.      Device-based security. Colleges are dependent on interconnected systems, from the mobile devices students carry on a daily basis to library computers and online grade reporting systems. Keeping those systems up-to-date and protected from potential vulnerabilities is a full-time effort, and many colleges employ data security personnel for the sole purpose of keeping those systems as well-protected as possible.

5.      Identity checks. Ensuring positive identification when going from building to building can’t prevent all crimes, but it can help keep track of people in the event of an emergency, and ensure non-students and non-faculty members can’t access college buildings without permission. New technology, such as mobile device-based recognition and smarter ID cards, is making it easier for colleges to keep track of their students and who enters their buildings. 

Barriers to Widespread Adoption

With all these new technologies available and moderately in circulation, why aren’t all colleges tightly secured? The truth is, it’s hard for colleges to universally adopt all these new security standards, for at least the following reasons:

·        Cost. New technology tends to be expensive, and instituting a new system across the entire campus can run in the tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Not all colleges can spare this money, especially for technology that’s yet unproven.

·        Logistics. Training new personnel on how to use the new technology, putting the systems in place, and making students aware of the new regulations can all be a logistical nightmare. It takes hundreds of man-hours to create this new system, which not all security teams can spare.

·        Choices and bureaucracy. There are hundreds of choices when it comes to specific tech, brands, and institution methods—and most colleges make decisions slowly thanks to bureaucratic proceedings. This makes it difficult for most colleges to adopt new security standards quickly.

This is only the beginning of the growth in security technology. Colleges can’t become invulnerable overnight, but the better our technology becomes, the safer our students and staff members will be on America’s campuses. Hopefully, future technology will be even better at overcoming the main barriers to widespread adoption, and safe campuses will be a mainstay all across the country. 

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