With so many security concerns, increasing measures without turning a campus into a surveillance state can be challenging. Thankfully, advancements in technology have allowed manufacturers and integrators to build solutions that keep students and faculty safe, while increasing efficiency and effectiveness.
Video surveillance is a key component of any security system, and university campuses are adopting the latest and greatest.
James Somerville-Smith, EMEA Programs Leader for Security and Fire at Honeywell Home and Building Technologies
, highlighted how universities around the world are turning to IP-based video surveillance solutions. “These cameras can capture high-resolution footage which is easier to analyze, making the task of spotting suspicious behavior easier for the security team.”
Deploying IP-based video solutions opens the door to a battery of other capabilities as well. “Remote monitoring also becomes a lot more seamless when digital images from IP-based video solutions are used, rather than analog solutions,” Somerville-Smith added. “IP-based video solutions are also more suitable as they are easier to integrate with other security features, for example access control and intruder solutions. IP-based video surveillance is particularly useful if a university has valuable items that need the highest level of protection. However, a university does not need to change its whole system to achieve this. Hybrid systems are available that allow universities to combine analog and IP cameras together, meaning that the switchover to IP can be carried out step-by-step.”
Furthermore, video surveillance solutions designed to help campuses gain the most relevant video and security information at any given time have the ability to help users proactively identify events and potential anomalies, pointed out Steve Birkmeier, VP of Sales and Business Development at Arteco
. “The focus is on identifying critical events and areas of interest, rather than sifting through hours of unimportant footage. Campus stakeholders can leverage intelligent data rather than non-critical video to help ensure the protection of students, staff, data and infrastructure.”
The use of video analytics with IP-based video solutions is also providing school officials with more insight than ever before.
“Video surveillance continues to be widely deployed as a deterrent and reactive tool for forensic review,” said James Marcella, Director of Industry Associations at Axis Communications
. “In some cases, video analytics are extending the usefulness of the surveillance equipment by providing insight into ways of improving organizational efficiency, for example in parking areas.”
“Video analytics, running in conjunction with the video management system, gives a college or university a solution that’s better able to address some of the most complex threats,” said Jumbi Edulbehram, Regional President of the Americas at Oncam
. “For example, student or employee records can be updated automatically in the event of a change, such as an employee being fired or a student making a threat against a classmate. Today’s video analytics capabilities integrated with access control systems allow officials to ‘flag’ an individual, which can trigger a response that identifies where that individual is on the campus, locks down the person's access card, and provides first responders with the ability to track his or her whereabouts. This advanced connectivity using the IoT and big data gathered from various campus security systems serves to keep more people safe.”
The difficulty in restricting access on open college campuses makes the need for an efficient and effective access control system all the more important. However, access control solutions can be expensive, and older campuses with historical buildings need easy-to-install solutions that won’t compromise the integrity of the building.
Thomas Schulz, Marketing and Communications Director for Digital and Access Solutions at ASSA ABLOY
EMEA, acknowledged how installing or expanding a standard wired system could be expensive and disruptive. “This is why universities increasingly turn to wireless access control systems. These systems make a major difference day-to-day. They eliminate the security risk posed by lost keys, for example. Rather than the expensive and laborious task of replacing a lock, security managers simply de-authorize a lost credential. It takes a few seconds to issue or revoke any smart card’s access rights from the system software.”
Installation of wireless locks is more cost effective than hard-wiring more doors since there is no cabling or invasive building work, Schulz added. “There is no need to change the door hardware, either. Maintenance is simple: these locks are powered by a standard lithium-ion battery which needs replacing every two years. Nothing more.”
Unification and Integration Drive Efficiency
It is important that universities identify ways to drive efficiency of their existing security staff and systems. This can be accomplished through integrating and unifying various systems.
“Integrating tools such as PSIM, video and access control with predictive analytics equips staff with the tools to make them work more effectively and secure a larger area without being onsite,” explained Julie Brown, Institutional Market Leader for North American Building Solutions at Johnson Controls
. “With these technologies in place, staff are also able to turn their attention toward identifying threat patterns and determining the level of security measures needed to mitigate risk.”
While integration “connects” many separate security systems, someone still has to piece all the data together from these systems in order to make operations work. In this case, Terry Schulenburg, Business Development Manager for Education at Genetec
, highlighted system unification over integration.
“Integration is sometimes referred to as ‘physical security information management’ (PSIM), and requires costly, periodic updates and management. A unified security platform natively hosts all video surveillance camera feeds, access control events and credentials, maps, alarms, communications and analytics, on one unified platform, and is managed from one screen, for unified execution,” Schulenburg explained. “By bringing all of this data together in one place, schools can make quicker decisions, and successfully execute their security procedures.”
Better Security, Safer Campus
Advances in technology and security systems are definitely helping universities make campuses safer. While security and safety solutions are ultimately only part of what keeps a campus safe, ensuring systems stay up-to-date and investing in the latest technologies will help university providers stay aware and proactive with their security.