Security in higher education faces unique challenges

Security in higher education faces unique challenges

Unlike K-12 campuses that are closed to the public, college and university campuses are open and spread out, often integrated into the local community. Because of this, perimeter detection is not plausible. “Colleges and universities present unique security challenges. You feel like you're protecting a small city, large corporation, research center, and creative think tank all at the same time,” said Harm Radstaak, MD of EMEA at HID Global. “In this environment, security means controlling physical access to buildings and events, plus logical access to computer networks and sensitive academic information. At the same time, operational costs must be kept under control while serving the diverse needs of a campus community.”

As an US consulting firm specializing in campus safety, security, and regulatory compliance for the education sector, Dan Pascale, CPP, Senior Director of Security & Emergency Services at Margolis Healy & Associates also pointed out the differing needs of colleges and universities based on location, particularly the difference between urban and rural campuses, in addition to the unique security challenges posed by colleges and universities. With tighter access control, tighter controls over visitor management, and more cooperation with local first responders, urban campuses need to address the more inherent dangers of urban surroundings. On the other hand, rural campuses feel safer and more secluded. As a result, rural campuses often do not feel the need to fortify with extra security measures. Additionally, unlike urban campuses, emergency response and security officials are more likely to all come from the university itself due to their more independent campus environment.

Clearer Surveillance, Higher Security
The “2012 Living on Campus: Special Report on College Housing,” by CP&M published in June 2012 found that that 82 % of college residence halls in the U.S. already have external video surveillance cameras in place, while 72 % also have internal surveillance. Now, with features like WDR becoming basic requirements for areas such as building entrances and parking garages, other features like megapixel cameras, panoramic cameras, and video analytics are gaining popularity as prices become more affordable. With advanced network infrastructures, university campuses lend themselves to network surveillance systems. As such, IP-based systems have been implemented in universities worldwide.

Megapixel cameras provide clearer images, providing better security. Finding an appropriate video management system/software (VMS) and using video analytics to accompany recordings can further improve campus security by providing live monitoring, incident review, etc. “Universities in particular can benefit from user-friendly video management interfaces, as various departments may require access to certain video data,” said Kim Loy, VP of Global Marketing and Chief Product Officer at DVTEL. Being able to provide real-time views of remote locations as well as forensic evidence in case of an incident are other reasons a VMS is valuable to a university campus, according to Mike Scirica, VP of Marketing and Sales at WavestoreUSA.

The need for better video quality to capture facial recognition was what drove George Mason University in Virginia, U.S. to go for an IP-based surveillance system. The school opted to deploy dome and panoramic megapixel cameras from Arecont Vision, ranging from 1.8 megapixels to 8 megapixels, in athletic facilities, academic buildings, and parking garages, with plans to extend installation to residence halls. The camera images are fed to a local network video recorder from ExacqVision. School officials note the better forensic capabilities and flexibility to recover data as some of the major benefits of using megapixel cameras. Furthermore, lower bandwidth and storage requirements, along with the need for fewer cameras to cover larger spaces, helped the school reduce costs.

Scirica also noted an increased demand for hemispheric, fish-eye, and 360-degree cameras. “With these devices, one camera can replace up to four traditional surveillance cameras and when used with dewarping software, users gain a new level of situational awareness than previously possible.” Dewarping software comes built-in to some of WavestoreUSA's VMSs, allowing users to record the original images while simultaneously displaying the dewarped images. The software also allows users to manage digital PTZ controls without the need of third-party SDK integration. “The dewarping feature…helps schools get more functionality out of the system and, consequently, achieve enhanced awareness of their security environment,” added Scirica.

 

Work Most Often Undertaken when College Renovate Buildings*

(% based on 616 projects)

HVAC

40.2%

Electric Overhaul

32.3%

Plumbing

27.6%

Lighting

27.3%

Flooring/Carpeting

25.7%

Fire Alarms

20.1%

ADA Compliance

19.0%

Fiber Optics/Cable

15.6%

Storage

14.5%

Security Equipment

12.9%

LANs

12.0%

Tile

12.0%

Lavatories

11.9%

WANs

11.9%

Controls

11.2%

Roofing

10.1%

*Retrofit undertaken in at least 10 percent of projects

Source: College Planning & Management

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