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What solution providers are doing to help colleges deal with COVID-19

What solution providers are doing to help colleges deal with COVID-19
While higher education institutions learn to deal with new norms created as a result of COVID-19, security solution providers are also adapting to help administrators adjust.
The coronavirus pandemic is not just forcing university campuses to change and adjust, it is also pushing solution providers and vendors to do the same. As campus security needs change, solution providers must work to offer solutions that accommodate the current state of affairs.

Repurposing security technology

Jim Geyer Allied Universal
Jim Geyer, VP, Sales,
Allied Universal
One way both established and unknown security solution providers are adapting to the new changes is by repurposing security technology for COVID-19. This is particularly common with integrators and manufacturers for facial recognition cameras, according to Angela Osborne, Regional Director, Security and Technology Consulting at Guidepost Solutions.

Face recognition technology offers a number of opportunities for campus security. On the other hand, the technology has created quite a stir on US college campuses, with students, parents and faculty all speaking out against its use. Students feel they are being surveilled. Others worry about how the technology might stifle freedom of speech. Osborne noted that many states in the U.S. have restricted its usage or are considering changes to regulations to account for privacy concerns.

Visitor management systems have been able to easily adapted to the COVID-19 environment. Campuses can use it to provide a means to screen visitors remotely, sharing detailed information on how to enter a restructured facility, and having visitors complete self-disclosures to verify they have not been in contact with anyone with COVID-19 and they do not have symptoms themselves.

Self-disclosure systems and applications are gaining traction as employers are putting the responsibility on employees to self-report. “This helps to avoid the need to screen employees, faculty and students onsite from the employers’ perspectives,” Osborne said. “If campuses are looking to set up this system, our team recommends for privacy and legal teams to examine the applications and the wording of forms to ensure the institution is not opening itself to privacy violations.”

Offering more guidance

The coronavirus pandemic is the first of its kind in contemporary history, making every plan and method for combatting it new for everyone involved. Campus administrators and safety departments need help planning how to safely and securely have students return to school, but this is unprecedented territory for security and solution providers, integrators and consultants.

“With new and evolving COVID-19 guidelines, organizations in every industry are trying to determine how best to minimize risks and move forward,” said Jim Geyer, VP of Sales at Allied Universal. “With the right protocols, trained security personnel and technology solutions, organizations will be able to reduce their health risks at their campuses and continue to move their universities forward.”

Many companies are helping higher education institutions plan for the upcoming school year by sharing best practices and offering guidance on how to provide a safe and secure environment for students and faculty.

Mahsa Karimi, Manager of Education at Allied Universal, described the following as just some of the recommendations her company has for universities to deal with new COVID-19 norms: support for touchless entry into buildings; dissemination of personal protection equipment (PPE) and disinfecting supplies; social distancing requirements to keep staff and students safe; and mitigate further risks with advanced technologies.

Paul Timm, VP at Facility Engineering Associates added that he hopes vendors will start to offer “try me” solutions, in addition to providing adequate product training and making representatives available to assist with necessary adjustments, support, maintenance, etc., in this dynamic environment.

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