The security week that was: 08/22/08

A weekly surveillance of news shaping your profession


The campus notification requirement

In the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings and so many other campus security events, a bill has been passed and signed into law by President Bush that requires immediate notification of the campus in the event of an emergency. The bill passed a new provision to the "Jeanne Clery Act", and was supported by Security On Campus, a non-profit group formed by the parents of Jeanne Clery, who was killed on the Lehigh University campus in 1986.

From what I can tell, the provision is fairly general and doesn't require a particular notification method, but I can tell you that once vendors of the email notification and SMS notification systems hear about this, they are going use this bill to encourage purchase of their systems.

Just yesterday, I had a discussion with Dr. Adam Thermos, a leading school security consultant and the presenting speaker on our recent Colleges & University Security webinar.

"Schools are saying 'Yes, we want these [electronic notification] systems.' They just want to buy them and quickly add them onto their servers and let them run," said Thermos.

He added that schools do not generally put much weight into these systems because they are fully dependent on students and faculty volunteering their phones to receive text messages. Additionally, texts and emails aren't guaranteed to reach the students (who may not be in front of a computer or have their phone with them or on at all times). Dr. Thermos said the systems were a good addition for universities, but not a silver-bullet solution to the problem of campus notification.

In addition, this legal requirement signed by the president will probably be used by companies selling loudspeaker system and perhaps even digital signage. One thing is for sure: While none of these solutions are fully effective, if they are layered together they can indeed reach much of the campus. And that, I think, is a good thing in the case of a university emergency -- whether that is a tornado or an active shooter.

Curiously, we're seeing the occasional ban on cell phones at school campuses. Like this recent example from Missouri, most of these bans occur at high school campuses, and not universities. Consider it proof again on why security methodology and solutions must be layered.

Overall, I look at this news story and see the greater picture: Security is converging with compliance. From CFATS for the chemical industry to TWIC for ports and this addition to the Clery Act, it's quite obvious that today's Chief Security Officer will be tomorrow's Chief Security Compliance Officer.

NBFAA and CSAA team for recruiting
Organizations launch online job recruitment service.

When SecurityInfoWatch.com was founded and first started reporting on security technologies and the business of our industry four years ago, one of my early conversations was with George Gunning, who is now a former president of the NBFAA. George and I sat on a couch at ISC East in New York and talked about the challenges the industry was facing. He told me at the time how alarm installing firms were very concerned with the issue of staffing. Those firms were concerned that there weren't enough new people coming into the industry to fill the open spots for technicians and installers and other frontline positions.

Since then, the association has been involved with a number of projects designed to remedy this. Its California chapter rolled out a massive apprenticeship program, and I understand that the CAA program has been studied for a national project.

In the same vein, I learned this week that the association is teaming up with the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA). Together they are launching the "Security Industry Recruiting Center." The organizations say the center provides "an online source for matching qualified job seekers with security industry employers. Designed to be simple and cost-effective, the recruiting center will allow employers in the industry to post available career opportunities, as well as review resumes posted by new industry recruits."

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