f you are going to play the college security game, you’ve got to play smart. Just as a good basketball coach looks for a cohesive game plan, so too a good security integrator will have a unified strategy for the college.
“Colleges and universities are no longer comfortable with disparate systems and are looking for fully integrated comprehensive solutions to manage their security profile,” said Craig Albrecht, vice president of Security Management Systems (SMS), Great Neck, N.Y. His father Al is president of the security integration firm which specializes in IP-based solutions.
Face it: Security and the safety of students and faculty are a prime concern at today’s college and university campuses. This plays right into a security company’s wheelhouse when approaching a campus with a security program in mind.
“Incidents like Virginia Tech and others have heightened awareness amongst the school administrators, students and parents regarding the importance of security and crisis management,” said Albrecht. “For parents and students, safety has become a concern even when evaluating which colleges and universities to attend.”
Here, then, is a great marketing opportunity for a savvy security dealer.
Albrecht has found that many campuses are taking advantage of IP-based physical security systems to leverage their existing network infrastructure, allowing all stakeholders access to the same pertinent information when required.
Analyze the end user’s needs and challenges
“Access control should be deployed to dormitory entrances or other access points, while cameras with edge analytics can be used to monitor common areas such as open quads as a deterrent as well as situational awareness,” he said.
Parking areas, especially at commuter campuses, are a separate concern. “Parking areas should be equipped with surveillance along with integrated emergency call stations,” he added.
Common areas such as study rooms in dormitories or access to libraries may also use access control and surveillance.
Typically, Albrecht finds that all of the subsystems of access control, surveillance, emergency intercoms and mass notification are controlled through a central command center. In addition, remote access through workstations and PDAs allow for real-time information to be available anytime, anywhere to assist security officers with incident response and management.
His company has dealt with the college market only for a few of its 33 years in business. SMS also specializes in projects dealing with access control, video surveillance and analytics, intercom systems, turnstiles, perimeter/intrusion protection as well as mass notification. In addition to its education installations, SMS’s client base includes Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, multi-tenant residential developments, commercial high-rise facilities and hospitals.
In fact, Albrecht attributes their expertise in the multifamily and high-rise apartment markets for giving them the leverage that allowed them to do a dormitory project for one school. They applied access control and video and soon they were established in the education sector.
“We are a company that gets pulled into markets,” Albrecht said. “You get some traction and it leads you down a particular path.”
One part of the playbook that college security people seem to like is their insistence on open platforms and IP-based networking.
While Albrecht is reluctant to single out any specific partners, he said they like to recommend open architecture-based systems which allow for a high level of integration and interoperability. “This enables us to use best-in-breed systems while still having a single platform for access control management, alarm monitoring, surveillance and IP-based communications,” he said.
Architecture for security coursework
On a typical campus, the security game plan includes the following: