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.