Learning to Do More With Less: Adapting Campus Security for Lean Times
Editor / Provider: Tevin Wang | Updated: 1/31/2012 | Article type: Education
In this third and final article, a&s analyzes what value-added vendors and integrators can bring to higher education, how to do more with less and the outlook for campus security.
In the education market, security funding is limited. “The biggest challenge is the education market does not always have full control over its own funding,” said John Moss, CEO of S2 Security. “Forces are unpredictable as politics may enter into security buying decisions.” “In North America, the security market is very much tied to the construction market. This year in higher education in North America, construction slowed down considerably due to the economic situation, as well as the political landscape,” said Barbara Winkler-Chimbor, Director of Global Education Market Development, Genetec. “There are no longer federal grants related to security in the U.S. like in the past. In the U.S. as well as Canada, the education market depends heavily on local state or province funding.” Governments are experiencing significant budget shortfalls and are focusing funds on providing competitive teacher salaries instead of capital improvements for security.
For European and Asian institutions, their willingness to spend money on student safety is reactive. “Our experience shows that student safety or security projects are only funded when incidents occur,” Winkler- Chimbor said. “No funding is truly applied for security.”
With challenged funding and resources, it is even more essential for manufacturers and system integrators to address the unique requirements of each school. “It is important to be flexible and robust to adapt to these different requirements,” said Terence Lee, Director of APAC System Integration, Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies. As financial realities limit the uptake of networked security in education market, it is crucial for venders and integrators to share best practices about how to balance an open learning environment and safety, so administrators can do more with less.
Do More With Less
Making the most out of existing IT infrastructure offers an efficient deployment. IP-based systems provide cost advantages without having to factor in wiring. “Educational facilities are often strained to find advanced technology while staying within budget,” said Steve Gorski, GM of the Americas, Mobotix.
Traditional, centralized structures have limitations since it requires high network bandwidth and the PC processing power is insufficient when using several cameras. The decentralized approach allows universities to gain access to the benefits of more resolution while maintaining cost effectiveness. “With the decentralized approach, the camera itself includes a processing computer and storage card, allowing PC to do the job of viewing video and camera control, thus putting less strain on PCs and reduces centralized storage needs,” Gorski said.
Campus safety is the fundamental reason for security systems. In a gloomy economy, vendors and integrators should consider what value their solution can add to colleges and universities beyond security. Some benefits of security can increase the effectiveness of existing security staff and improve resource management.
Remote monitoring allows a limited amount of personnel to cover a larger area while being more available. Security personnel can use the video captured by the system to determine what is happening before sending guards to the scene, thus multiplying the effective area the existing security force can patrol. “This allows universities to streamline their manpower operation and improve their process management,” Lee said. Integrated security solutions can translate to less data entry for staff members and less money spent on staff resources, meaning less dependence on physical guarding.
“Remote access to video also benefits other departments in a college or university, such as the maintenance department,” said Gadi Piran, President of On-Net Surveillance Systems. “Web-based access to cameras from any desktop can contribute to additional operational efficiencies campus-wide. Such opportunities should be considered when a system is designed — they can also boost a system's ROI.”
Security solutions also provide data to help staff make decisions. “Security solutions can be used for staff members to track traffic patterns,heavily used rooms or buildings on campus and more,” said Randy Montelius, VP of Engineering, Communications Engineering Company. In addition to keeping students and staff safe, cameras can help administrators undersatnd facility usage. Video can manage the flow of students, analyze bottlenecks that form between classes or view vehicle traffic flow.
“Video can track facility occupancy, especially during the weekend or off-hours,” Piran said. “Integrated with the HVAC system, video could help save energy costs, for example, by automatically turning up the air conditioner only when room occupancy reaches a certain number.”
Colleges are seeking new ways to keep their buildings safe without breaking the bank. Issuing one smart credential also saves administrative costs. The cost of a single credential is lower than purchasing multiple forms of identification. The rollout of smart credential solutions for physical access control is typically done with card management systems that involve card issuance, personalization and access rights, simplifying management processes and distribution time. Smart card technology also helps enhance management efficiency.
For instance, by introducing smart credential-based authentication, a campus can immediately reduce the number of staff members needed to manage and control access to residence halls, recreation centers, laboratories and other buildings that only authorized students and staff should enter.
Maximizing the extent to which a credential can be utilized for campus living and activities is becoming more common. “Smart card technology offers universities multi-application functionality for logical access, cashless vending, canteen transactions, on-demand printing, library access and locker use, these applications enable the wider community controlled access to public services such as its buses, museum and swimming pools too,” said Simon Siew, MD for APAC, HID Global (an Assa Abloy company).
Transportation management is another common challenge that smart cards can address. “We have a case in Spain of school transportation solution that integrated GPS, text messaging and database capabilities,” Siew said. “All cards are personalized by the university and can be reprogrammed when the amount of transportation purchased expires. The university is considering opportunities for time and attendance and other future applications to be deployed using the same smart card technology.”
With limited resources and funding, selecting the right technology and laying the groundwork for deployment are the keys to make every penny count. Campus decision makers should look for platforms that are open to allow easy integration into other applications with minimal programming. An open access platform speeds up the time of deployment, reduces the cost of implementation and allows campus officials to get the most out of their investment. [NextPage]
Higher education tends to have excellent technology resources. Schools are seeing more IP uptake as security is shifting toward IP as well.
“At least in North America, we have seen a huge shift in the IT departments' budgets to support physical security applications,” Winkler- Chimbor said. “We are experiencing the IP shift in physical security within the education market. Our major North American accounts, which include top 10 universities, are driven and funded by IT.”
As smartphone adoption grows, the ability to monitor or to be notified via smart devices is a trend. Video can be provided to local emergency personnel through mobile applications that offer access to video through smartphones. “We strongly believe that due to the fact that higher education has access to students with IT degrees, they are more likely to use these resources in active projects on campuses which come at a minimum cost,” Winkler- Chimbor said. “Students offer to take the lead in testing and leading the way to new generation security applications that can provide mobile applications. We have experienced this factor at major universities in North America as well as abroad.”
Higher education institutions have a more dynamic and transient population. “In North America, there is an increased awareness about the need to control crowds at either sports or concert events or various student-organized protests on campus,” Winkler-Chimbor said. “Post-secondary education institutions are looking to add people counting at events to assess capacity at stadiums, as well as to properly plan evacuation procedures during emergency situations such as fires and weather related emergencies.” In the case of protests, institutions use surveillance tools to ensure campus security rules have been properly enforced and to provide legal evidence .
Lack of funding and no new construction in North America have slowed down the higher education security market. Added-value services become crucial for both vendors and integrators. For example, security applications that can be modified by universities for learning or that can be integrated with existing student e-cards are becoming more common. Security technologies might be considered to improve productivity and are helping to edge security towards being a profit center, said Nigel Waterton, VP of Strategic Development, Aronson Security.
“We plan to expand our involvement in the higher-education market by focusing on VoIP solutions, wireless technologies and infrastructure, and multimedia classrooms that incorporate audiovisual as well as security solutions,” Montelius said. “Unlimited bandwidth has also allowed security solutions that make use of standard IP networks to create, publish and distribute rich media content for streaming. With these systems, lectures and presentations are recorded and archived, and students can stream these presentations back if they miss a class and want to listen to a lecture again.”
“There is progress occurring towards integrating multiple databases in the higher education market,” Waterton said. The key is integrating various solutions on one platform that is capable of processing all signals and immediately notify the responsible personnel, to increase the effectiveness of existing security resources.
While North America is contracting, emerging markets have strong potential. “Our international education markets in Asia, Australia, Europe and the Middle East grew almost 150 percent in 2011, indicating a strong adoption and need of security technology,” Winkler-Chimbor said.
Institutions need a common consensus on their long-term technology plans, emergency procedures and trained response teams. “It is of the utmost importance to have IT technicians, maintenance staff and security officers work together to agree on a solution and take into consideration long-term goals and planning for years to come,” Montelius said.
Keeping campus crime low can improve an institution's ability to recruit new students and can limit liability costs if an incident occurs. “Keeping campus crime low also produces a marketing message for prospective students and families that encourages selection and attendance based on security values,” Montelius said.
Security must consider site-specific needs. The world of education emphasizes openness and is not always receptive to security. “It is crucial to understand individual market needs and it is important to be flexible and robust to adapt to these different requirements,” Lee said.
There is a fine line between policing and making students feel safe enough to learn. As IP security uptake continues, careful planning is required. There is no guarantee that a tragedy will never happen again, but the risks could be reduced to a minimum. Besides security technologies, every institution needs to plan for emergencies, from pandemics, toxic spills, active shooters or dangerous weather. While there is no way to plan for every scenario, higher education prepares for the worst so students can do their best.